Managing Building Escrow Accounts

“The operation created has helped to streamline our process and provide a more efficient and organized way to manage each project. We are extremely happy with the functionality of Citizenserve and ability to create the necessary adjustments to handle our financial components.”

– Clifton Park Planning Department


Clifton Park is a suburban town in Saratoga County, New York featuring numerous recreational activities and restored historic sites. The town is located approximately 12 miles north of Albany and boasts a modest population of about 38,000 (2020). The city is a model growth community in the New York Tech Valley and has acquired, protected, preserved and purchased development rights on over 1000 acres.


The Planning Department is relatively small with only four key users. However, they have a complex process requiring over 20 different reviews and one or more board hearings. Their prior system was not able to efficiently handle the complex process. Besides developing robust review workflows, one of the key concerns was how best to collect and track escrow funds. The department uses these funds to pay for various Engineering reviews. This allows the applicant to pay a lump sum up-front rather than making numerous payments towards each expense as they come up. The department needed a way to automatically calculate the escrow amount required, allow the user to deposit the funds, and be able to track withdrawals.


We went to work examining the complex review processes and how the escrow collection fit in. After several iterations, an optimal process was developed.
The escrow account is set up as a standalone activity that is automatically created as part of the initial application review. The escrow amount is calculated automatically based on the department’s fee schedule. Applicants are able to deposit funds through the online portal using a provided invoice number. Payments are processed by the City’s chosen payment provider. This keeps the fees and payments separate from the application fees. To track deposits and withdrawals, custom fields and tables were added to the activity.


The Planning Department chose to go live with a soft launch, receiving online applications from a few key parties. With only minor tweaks, the department went live publicly just two months later. The final launch of the department’s online application process, and the customized financial process specifically, was a huge success. In the first year after go-live, the Planning Department processed nearly 100 applications and collected over $250,000 in escrow fees.

Escrow Account Activity View

“Working with Clifton Park was a fantastic experience. We had an excellent opportunity to work together to design a process using our flexible software to solve a major problem. Our partnership led to an ideal solution, and the results speak for themselves.”

– Reese Pratt, Senior Implementation Manager