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How Small Town, Manitou Springs Quickly Pivoted from Paper to Digital

Manitou Springs, CO 80829, USA
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CivicPlus
Contact Partner

Government Champion

Public Information and Engagement Officer

Cost

Initial:
30 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2021

Keywords

low-code development
Online forms
citizen services
CARES Act

Challenges Addressed

Customer Service
Digital Government
Process Improvement

Motivation

Smart city
Resilient city

Funding / Financing

Federal grants

Project Type

Technology

At a Glance

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, like many cities, Manitou Springs, CO had to temporarily close its City Hall doors. Leveraging its existing infrastructure, the city rapidly migrated its paper forms to online submissions so that citizens and businesses could keep operations moving.

Problem Addressed

According to Alex Trefry, City of Manitou Springs Public Information and Engagement Officer, when the COVID-19 pandemic originally necessitated the closing of Manitou Springs’ City Hall, local leaders committed to maintaining operations that would facilitate citizen trust.

“The closure was hard on every department,” said Trefry. “We quickly had to move to online meetings and remote work. We didn’t want our citizens to feel separate from us, so we posted our staff members’ contact information online to reaffirm that while our doors were closed, we were still here serving our residents.”

Trefry and his fellow leaders knew they needed to quickly adapt many of their citizen service workflows to enable online access to files, forms, and requests since citizens could not walk into City Hall or place a phone call to a department office.

“While it was necessary to migrate forms online due to COVID-19, we knew that implementing online services would ultimately be easier for both residents and staff, rather than managing paper processes,” said Trefry. “By implementing an online form management solution, my goal was to make it easier for both parties involved and to enhance the typical experience of filling out a form.”

The City of Manitou Springs, CO used/is using the CivicOptimize Productivity ready-to-use mobile app and form solution to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

The City of Manitou Springs was already using CivicPlus’ CivicEngage website design and hosting solution, so it was quick and easy to add the needed functionality.

“When I saw the Productivity tool, I knew it would make an impact and help us make forms easily accessible to our community,” said Trefry.

While the transition from paper to digital forms happened because of COVID-19, it has created lots of durable benefits for residents and city employees. For example, the previous PDF tax forms the city used required users to complete a series of complex calculations to determine their tax payment. This requirement left room for inadvertent errors and added work for the City’s Finance Department to review and check the calculations. Trefry recreated the paper forms using this new software, designing them to automatically calculate the user’s taxes based on the submitted data, which made the process easier for citizens, more accurate, and freed up time for the Financial Team.

Outcomes

  1. Provided a more convenient way for citizens and business owners to submit tax forms.
  2. By automating the tax calculations, reduced form errors and manual reviews and corrections by the City's Finance team.
  3. Future-proofed its citizen form submission process by moving from paper to digital.
  4. Enabled the continuation of critical administrative operations despite office closures related to COVID-19.
  5. Designed smart forms with no advanced coding or programming skills needed.

Lessons Learned

  1. “Especially for small governments like ours...automations which eliminate busy-work that takes up so much time are helpful," said Trefry.

Something Unique

Manitou Springs used CARES Act funding to help pay for their purchase of the CivicOptimize Productivity forms solution."

Who Should Consider?

Any small-to-large municipality that needs to migrate manual workflows to digital citizen self-service solutions.

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