Financial forecasting for Massachusetts communities has become much easier with the launch today of an online financial management tool by the Department of Revenue, DOR Commissioner Alan LeBovidge announced.
"This new on-line tool will help communities develop multi-year revenue and expenditure estimates," LeBovidge said. "This resource makes historical data immediately available, provides a user-friendly structure, does the calculations and offers advice as you go."
Now available at www.mass.gov/dls, the financial forecasting software allows a municipality to evaluate the impact of various government decisions over time. Policy choices often affect the town's financial condition for years. This software provides an effective framework for projecting and analyzing the future financial impact of decisions.
"A major benefit of this tool is the structured access to historical data that has been gathered by the Municipal Data Bank," said Gerard Perry, deputy commissioner for the Division of Local Services. "It's all there, Tax Recaps, Schedule A forms, and Cherry Sheets. This program has information that is specific to a municipality and is laid out in an intuitive way for easy analysis."
When estimating the tax levy limit and tax rate for a municipality, local officials must project new growth, identify overrides, exclusions, and changes in assessed value. They must also determine if and how the tax rate will be split between residential/open space and commercial/industrial/personal property taxpayers. The forecasting tool ensures that the user addresses each of these components, one at a time, with the help of historical data and advice. The forecasting tool performs all of the necessary calculations and instantly incorporates each new estimate as the user enters it.
This program has room to project revenues and expenditures up to five years into the future. This can help communities analyze where current trends are leading and estimate if money will be available for discretionary spending such as capital purchases, collective bargaining settlements, or set aside reserves.