Marion County Clerk


Posted by Rachel Raymond

Topic(s): Success Stories, Budget Book

Read Time: minute(s)

Marion County prepares  
three publish-ready budget books in just eight hours 

Project: Budget Book Automation
Organization: Marion County Clerk
Solutions: Caseware Working Papers + custom scripting
Budget Book: 2022-23 Adopted Line-Item Budget
2022/23 - 2026/27 Adopted CIP
Success Story: Marion County

With a team of five people and a billion-dollar budget, Marion County has always relied on technology to do more with less and do it quickly. Having worked first with GovMax, then with Tyler Munis for budget creation, the group decided that Munis budget-book automation capabilities were insufficient. To extend its capabilities such that its output would meet the needs of the county commissioner would require $150,000 worth of customization. Unprepared to pay the initial and any ongoing costs for subsequent updates and changes, the team started looking for alternatives. 

The whole package

The team was introduced to Caseware and F.H. Black & Company Incorporated (FHB). Out of the box, the Caseware solution had much of what the county was looking for. And they soon learned that the public sector experts at FHB would fill in the gaps, making it the perfect solution for their organization.  
We interviewed Audrey Fowler, budget director at Marion County, to learn more about the project.

Why not just use spreadsheets?

Every day, we speak with finance and budget departments that still prepare their financial reports using some combination of spreadsheets, word processors, and publishing tools. Having made it our mission to replace these disjointed programs with purpose-built, database-driven solutions, we are always curious as to why organizations choose spreadsheets. So, when we asked Audrey why she chose not to use spreadsheets, we found that she was a kindred spirit, and her fear was real. It's a fear that our team of principal consultants knows all too well and has experienced firsthand during their time in public sector finance and budget departments: the fear that one or more of the thousands of points of entry is incorrect—that errors have propagated throughout the reports and that they’ve missed them. 

”I would never dream of publishing a book from an Excel file, not at 700 pages.”

Audrey Fowler, budget director at Marion County Clerk

Automation by necessity

In public sector finance and budget departments, obtaining buy-in, allocating budget, and setting aside time for an IT project is always challenging. And even when all of these things are in place, IT projects often fail, resulting in wasted time and money. More importantly, project failures drain enthusiasm for change. With the difficulty and risk involved, it's no wonder many organizations are hesitant to take on the challenge, despite the rewards of a successful project. When we asked Audrey about the county's decision-making process, it was immediately apparent that the budget team was very motivated and that this project was a means to an end. 

"I don’t have 40 hours to spend in a week on putting the book together...  
I have to spend the money on the automation, the technology to get things done. 
Otherwise, I can’t get my job done."

Getting exactly what you want

Audrey was no stranger to IT projects. She had versed herself in available and suitable solutions and knew what she wanted. She also knew that, to meet her needs precisely and guarantee optimal execution, she needed an implementation specialist. 

Audrey wanted a two-step process for preparing a visually appealing and accurate book: 

1. Import data. 
2. Click three buttons to generate the books.

Using the FHB method, complemented by custom scripting, Marion County got exactly what it wanted and needed.


"The implementation was fantastic, very responsive... I was a little skeptical at first, but [FHB] made a believer out of me, and it worked!

What does preparing your budget books look like today?

"All three books are fully scripted... It's an eight-hour workday, start to finish."


For more on this project, read the full story

For more on this topic(s), see: Success Stories, Budget Book

Originally Posted on 07 December, 2022

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