Looking up current and previous city budgets became a little easier for Burbank residents with the implementation of a new online system.
On March 28, Burbank officials launched a financial transparency portal on the website burbankca.opengov.com, where instead of having to sift through hundreds of pages of documents, those curious about how Burbank spends its money can now click through budgets and see them in different formats, such as pie charts, bar graphs or line graphs. They can also choose different filters to look at how each city fund is used.
Burbank spokesman Drew Sugars said the city is working with OpenGov, a cloud-based software service the finance department can use to upload Burbank’s financial information. Once on the company’s servers, it can be organized in a user-friendly and interactive format.
“One of the goals of our City Council and our city is to have transparent government, and probably the biggest thing that happens in government is the budget because it dictates what we do,” he said.
“There had been a search to find a tool that could help the general public have access to where the money goes, not only to get an understanding of where things are in the budgets, but to drill down to see stuff like contracts we have with businesses,” he added.
OpenGov will cost Burbank $19,500 annually to use, according to a city staff report.
Currently, the financial transparency portal will have the 2014-15 fiscal year budget up to the current budget. Sugars said there are no plans to upload budgets before 2014 and the online tool will not be used for projected budgets, only budgets that have been approved by council.
More than 1,400 public agencies in 48 states use the Redwood City, Calif.-based company, according to the staff report.
Glendale uses a similar service provided by Socrata, which not only looks at the budget, but also breaks down how well the city is doing in terms of housing, infrastructure and safety.
“In Glendale, it is important to know and protect our taxpayer dollars, but it is also important to measure the value of the services received by our residents and business community,” Glendale spokesman Tom Lorenz said in an email. “It becomes a reflection of our quality of life.”