[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ccording to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of transparency is ‘characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.’ The City of Miami Beach is taking the definition of that word to new levels with the launch of an online tool giving the public full transparent access to the city’s fiscal information – a platform called OpenGov.
Here’s how OpenGov works. Simply log on to www.miamibeachfl.gov. On the home page you’ll find the OpenGov platform. The page gives visitors access to the city’s total budget. With a few simple clicks you can find numerous, easy to follow views of current and historic revenue and expenses. The information is categorized by departments, funds and even the specific reasoning for the dollar amounts allocated and spent. Visitors to OpenGov learn the inner financial workings of human resources, parks & recreation, public works and more.
Have you ever wondered about resort taxes – how and where the funds originate and where those dollars are ultimately spent? And what about the specifics of the budgets for the police and fire departments? How much is spent for water, sewer and other utilities?
“Maintaining budget data on OpenGov’s platform answers frequently asked questions such as how have tax revenues changed over the past five years,” said John Woodruff, director, Miami Beach Office of Budget and Performance Improvement.
Another interesting feature of OpenGov… the platform offers visitors a month-to-month comparison of the budget and provides five years’ worth of data. It’s all visible and readily accessible through OpenGov. You could consider it a civics lesson in not only how a local municipality works, but also in the value of transparency; making it easier for citizens to see and monitor how their tax-dollars are being spent.
For more information on the new OpenGov platform check out the upcoming edition of MB Magazine.