In 2006, I requested the city start increasing transparency of expenditures. How can city commissioners really have any oversight, or anyone for that matter, without any real information to look at? As far as I can tell, there has been no change.
Here’s the Lighthouse Point 2008-09 adopted budget (pdf)
Here’s the City of Parkland 2008-09 adopted budget-zip/pdf file. I recommended our commissioners look into Parkland as an example our city should strive for two years ago. Parkland’s population is roughly the same size as ours, a little bit bigger and they provide similar services.
Look at the difference in the annual report. Everyone knows what money is being spent on, what objectives and achievements are in various departments. As our state and country continue to look for ways to cut costs, you must have transparency and accountability. There is a bigger report than the LHP link above that is used for budget reviews, but the line items on the reports change frequently so there is no year to year comparison, plus there is simply no comparison to Parklands.
What about other cities? How do we match up? The fact that we have a good bond rating doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement. We’ve brought money in, we’ve spent it, and we haven’t gotten ourselves into big debt. That’s great.
Nearly all residents have a beef about something. Kids aren’t happy with the book choices in our library. We’re told there are not enough funds to buy too many books (we have $60,000 budget). Many aren’t happy with our bumpy road conditions. Where will the money come from to fix them? Our capital improvements projects list cannot be fulfilled due to lack of funds and we’ll probably need to float another bond. This is why we need transparency. So that over time, we can meet whatever needs face us. So we can make logical decisions based on facts, not based on how it was done last year and 10 years ago.