We’re opening our books

By Councillor Wayne Rothe

I expect that relatively few of you are keenly interested in the City of Spruce Grove’s finances, but those who are now have a means of seeing how public funds are being spent.

One of the issues that came up in the 2017 municipal election campaign was the need for more transparency. Residents we talked with, for example, asked for better financial reporting.

To provide that, the Open Books portal has just been launched through the City’s website. It’s a means of providing accountability in an easily accessible, understandable format, through an online reporting tool that provides the public with access to the City’s monthly and annual financial data.

The Open Books tool allows users to:

o   View the City’s financial information in a number of ways, using charts and graphs to explore historical trends and a comparison to the annual budget for revenues and expenses.

o   View information by funding source, by department or by revenue and expense type.

Open Books provides two reports:

o   Current-year results by month, capturing each month’s revenues and expenses, comparing spending to the budget.

o   Historical annual results that provide total revenue and expenses for a particular year.

Data can be viewed in one of five graphs: a percentage graph, a stacked graph, a line graph, a pie graph, and a bar graph.

In most instances, Open Books will provide the same level of detail as the City’s regular financial statements. Where practical an additional level of detail will be provided.

No account set up or log-in is required to access Open Books.  The data will be updated every three months to coincide with timing of quarterly financial results as presented to council.

We’re interested in your thoughts on this new tool so feel free to contact any of your seven council members with comments. If you should get Spanish, understand that we’ve had that small glitch which should have been corrected by the time you read this.

Open Books is found at Sprucegrove.org/openbooks.

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