The City of St. Pete launched an online platform called OpenGov last month that allows residents to interactively monitor how the city is spending taxpayer dollars.
OpenGov can be used to monitor and compare current and past spending in various departments and funds and see what that money was used to purchase. The platform is used in 36 states among 270 local governments representing 34 million citizens and nearly $90 billion in annual spending.
“This is another step forward toward the government in the sunshine our taxpayers deserve. Making our financial data more transparent and accessible to the citizens of this city is the right thing to do,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “Making our city website more user-friendly was a campaign promise, and this new technology is a critical component of that. I hope everyone will visit StPete.org and utilize the OpevGov platform.”
Users can review historical revenue and expenditure trends over time, view multiple diagrams showing budget data and track year-to-year revenue and expenses. Residents can also view how departments operate within a budget.
For example, the home page of St. Pete’s OpenGov website shows revenue sources for 2011 through 2014 and the projected revenue for 2015. The bar graph shows a slight increase year-to-year in revenue with the distribution of revenue sources maintaining similar levels.
Users can also view two different pie charts showing where city revenue comes from. The bar graph view gives a better historical overview, while the two pie charts show an easier to read breakdown of where money is coming from.
The data also allows users to view how revenue is spent and how much of the expenses each governmental department uses.
For example, more than 45 percent of the city’s expenses are in salary and wages and public safety administration uses more than half of the city’s general budget.
Data can then be broken down into more specific criteria such as individual departments, types of expenses and an overview of revenue and expenses per department and overall general budget.
There’s also an option to look at the data per capita; meaning users can view data per-resident.
The OpenGov rollout comes as the city is launching an updated website. The new StPete.org boasts higher-quality images, larger fonts for major city events and departments and a new color scheme.