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Redmond Releases Budget as Interactive Web Tool


February 13, 2015 by Josh Mahar
Category: Budgets and Budgeting , Public Participation

Redmond Releases Budget as Interactive Web Tool

Trying to figure out how to engage your community better in the complex world of local government budgets? Redmond may have an answer for you. The city of 55,000 has come out with a new online tool, Open Budget Redmond, aimed at demystifying the budgeting process. The interactive web portal offers simple filtering and analytics tools that allow citizens, not to mention councilmembers and other city leaders, to quickly and easily dig into various sections of the city’s 2015-2016 biennial budget. The project is part of Redmond’s larger open data initiative, which offers access and download of a substantial amount of the city’s data sets (so far the most popular has been the Redmond Check Register).

Instead of the standard 600+ page PDF (which is still available for download), Open Budget Redmond allows citizens to quickly drill down into any area of the budget they are interested in. With a few clicks they can easily see where and how tax dollars are being spent as well as the breakdown sources that fund various particular projects and programs. On the capital projects side, a map view indicates where different investments are going throughout the city. As the city continues to refine the tool, they hope to eventually include status updates for these projects too. While the tool is available publicly, Redmond also sees it as a great resource for councilmembers and other city leaders to speedily access data during meetings and discussions without requiring staff support.

The tool was developed using the Open Budget App from Socrata, a Seattle-based technology company that helps governments leverage their data and make it more accessible to citizens. With a long history of innovative budgeting practices – Redmond has been doing priority-based budgeting since 2008 – Socrata approached the city to test-drive their software. While the product and developement did cost money, Redmond Finance Director Mike Bailey called it “a nominal fee” and says he believes it could save them money in the long run by reducing printing costs and staff resources.

Photos courtesy of Kurt Clark and City of Redmond.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Josh Mahar

Josh joined MRSC in September 2013 as the organization’s first Communications Coordinator. His professional experience includes strategic communications work for the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), Portland State University, and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Josh has also been heavily involved with local government, working on urban policy issues with Forterra and the Seattle P-Patch program, along with a stint on the Capitol Hill Community Council. Josh has two degrees from the University of Washington, a bachelor’s degree from the Jackson School of International Studies and a master’s degree from the Evans School of Public Affairs.

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