New software will allow Steamboat residents to keep better tabs on government spending

New transparency software the city of Steamboat Springs is installing this month will allow residents to fire up their web browsers and see exactly what their government is spending their tax money on, almost in real time.

Want to know exactly how much the city is spending up on Howelsen Hill this year?

Perhaps you're interested in seeing how much City Council members are spending to travel to conferences around the state?

The new software called OpenGov will make it easier for residents to get answers to these questions, and many more.

City officials said it will be as if the city is opening up its checkbook to review online.

The online platform will display specific transactions, meaning if the parks and recreation or engineering departments purchase new equipment, residents will quickly be able to see how much it cost and who the money was paid to.

Transactions can be found via a search by department or by vendor.

Residents and city employees will also be able to see whether certain departments are on track to meet their annual budget projections.

Financial reports will be uploaded into the new system weekly.

"It's a step to try to help improve the community trust in council and the city," Finance Director Kim Weber said Wednesday. "It's more transparency."

The online portal will include several data sets the public currently cannot get without filing an open records request. They include the City Council expense reports and financial information that drills down to the transaction level.

Weber said she thinks the software will not only answer questions but prompt them.

"It might spark questions people didn't even know they had," she said.

The City Council took a test drive of the software Tuesday.

Government programs manager Winnie DelliQuadri showed how the new web portal could display detailed spending on the ongoing downtown improvement project as well as Howelsen Hill.

"This allows you to slice and dice the city's budget in a number of different ways," DelliQuadri said.

The city is working on providing reports that also go beyond financial information.

Councilwoman Heather Sloop wondered whether the system could also show such things as the number of emergency calls that were drug-related in a given year.

The software is costing the city $18,000 to implement.

The city is aiming to have the new web portal up and running later this month.

By: Scott Franz
Published: June 14, 2017
Source: Steamboat Today | New software will allow Steamboat residents to keep better tabs on government spending