The Town of View Royal has launched an online tracker that spells out precisely how its revenues – 65 per cent of which come from taxpayers – are spent on public goods and projects.
View Royal claims its budget variance dashboard, launched Sept. 7, is one of the first of its kind in Canada and provides weekly updates on the fluctuation of city budget expenditures. That includes revenue from, and expenses towards, capital and non-core projects including service charges (transit, emergency services, etc.) or one-time expenditures. The data includes a current and prior year overview, as well as trends dating back to 2018.
“One of the hallmarks of council is our commitment to providing our citizens with a high level of transparency about the work we do on their behalf,” said Mayor David Screech said in a release. “This dashboard is a testament to that commitment and to the level of transparency we aspire to achieve.”
The online tool has been in the works for six months, said its architect and View Royal director of finance Dawn Christensen.
“It’s important for citizens and stakeholders to be able to access this information because it (involves) taxpayers’ money,” she said. “We don’t ever forget that. Taxpayers are happy to remind us as well, and they’re right.
“When you look at the dashboard, and you see the list of descending dollar values, that protective (emergency) services are the top of the list. It’s pretty intuitive then to see that council has heard from taxpayers – those services are the top of the list as far as priorities where taxpayers are concerned,” Christensen said.
The dashboard employs state of the art business intelligence software that give her tools she didn’t previously have as an accountant, to create data visualization from a mass amount of information with such speed and accuracy. The dashboard’s weekly updates take about 20 minutes of city staff time, Christensen said.
To access the program, visit viewroyal.ca and search for budget variance dashboard.
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