Florida Town Simplifies Transparency

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Longboat Key (FL) is setting an example for fiscal transparency.

In 2012, when the town’s commissioners requested an online budget module to replace paper reports and documents, the finance and IT departments delivered. The town’s employees were quickly able to access a financial database using RedBack Ecommerce to view a live feed from the finance department’s reporting system. When the town experienced a change in leadership, there was a push to share the same information to the public.

In mid-February, the town launched an online graph, using fiscal data that feeds directly from the finance department’s database, to display revenues and expenses. The chart is publicly accessible. “We are providing a high-level executive overview in a simple way,” said Kathi Pletzke, the town’s IT director. “You don’t need a business degree to tell if we’re on track with our budget with the tool.” The tables and charts, which cost about 25 hours of development time, or approximately $2,500, provide the most current view of the town's budgeted revenues and expenditures, as well as year-to-date amounts.

The online tool, funded by IT’s professional services budget, includes five fiscal years of current and historical expenditure data along with graphing tools and the ability to export the data to Excel for further analysis.

Florida Town Simplifies Transparency