I’m very happy to present a guest post from Mr. Lee Feldman, the City Manager of Palm Bay, Florida. City Manager Feldman is a superstar of muniland transparency. Read how he and his team developed a fully open financial-reporting system to engage and empower the citizens of Palm Bay. [UPDATE: On Tuesday, it was announced that Mr. Feldman would soon leave his position in Palm Bay to take over as city manager of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.]
Open.PalmBayFlorida.org – Financial Transparency at the Public’s Fingertips
The City of Palm Bay, Florida, felt our neighbors deserved to have a simple way to see how their tax dollars were spent. In December 2009 the City created Open Palm Bay, an online interactive database that allows them to view and search the City’s financial information at any time.
The intuitive database enables anyone to follow their money right down to the penny. Palm Bay believes that this easy-to-use website is the first of its kind in Florida, setting the benchmark for financial transparency in local government.
The City proactively decided to create this website in anticipation of the passage of a proposed bill in the Florida state legislature. Although the legislation was ultimately not approved, Palm Bay officials thought the concept was a worthy initiative to pursue and they continued forward with the effort.
The information within the database is presented in three separate areas: expenditures, salaries and revenue. The site also provides easy access to the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). All financial information is updated quarterly. Visitors to the site are given several different options to sort or filter the available information for online viewing, or they may export reports to several different file formats for offline viewing. The site includes a glossary of terms used in the financial data and a Frequently Asked Questions section.