City working on financial web access
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2005
THE Selma Times-Journal
Eventually, Selma’s city budget and expenditures will be available online.
At present, city financial records are available to the public by requesting them at the city clerk’s office.
“I’m the webmaster. Once I’ve developed procedure and gotten approval from the mayor, the same info as is already public will be available online – the same info you’d get if you came into the office,” said Lois Williams, Selma’s city clerk.
“I’m not sure on the date, really,” Williams said. “It’s in the development stages.”
Selma’s city government Web site, www.selmacitygovernment.com, includes contact information for city government officials and offices, a statement from the mayor about Selma, and some public records some months old.
The Web site is maintained by Clarence Lindsey, who is paid $1,800 a year for this service.
Selma’s revenue budget for 2004/2005 is $16,340,681.66.
Proposed 2006 revenue budget totals $16,961,638.60. Landfill and tourism budgets fall outside of these figures.
For easy access to records of how tax money is being spent, budgeted, and generated, cities across the country have made their records available online.
In New York City, the city’s budget officer is Raymond Orlando.
“The city’s annual budget is $51 billion,” he said from the mayor’s budget office. ” Our annual budget is larger than maybe 49 states’. We’re legally obligated to provide all details of revenues and expenditures to our taxpayers, like any other city.
“Updates are provided online, on a quarterly basis, in excruciatingly painful detail at www.nyc.gov/omb,” Orlando said. “Every budget publication, current and archived, is located there.”
A visit to the site provides records of adopted, executive and financial budgets in the detail Orlando outlined.
Toronto, a city with an annual budget of $1 billion, not only has its budget and resulting usages online, but has an online simulation for citizens to access to offer their ideas for better uses of funds.
Their City Budget 2005 online simulation is an interactive program that lets citizens make financial choices within the proposed annual budget.
“You can set your own budget for the City and see the impact on residential property taxes,” reads the www.toronto.ca budget site.
“Toronto City Council approves a budget every year to pay for the services the City provides for its citizens.
Use the City of Toronto budget 2005 simulation to learn more about city services, the council’s nine priorities for the 2003-2006 term, and 2005 budget impacts resulting from your possible changes.”
It’s open government at work, like New York’s, and easily reviewed from home or work.
Toronto, like New York, is a diverse city and actively serves its diverse populace.
Las Cruces, N.M., is home to 80,000 people.
Their city clerk is Shirley Clark, who’s been a resident of the state for 22 years.
“Basically, what people are looking for online, the budget and audited financial statements, we’ve got online,” Clark said.
“Quarterly reports of income and expense statements are available to the public from our office, but we don’t have those online yet.”
Ormond Beach, Fla., with a population under 38,000, is closer in size to Selma.
Their city’s financial records are available online for easy access by their citizenry