Coventry, Conn., and OpenGov Collaborate to Publish City’s Fiscal Docs

Users can view revenue and expenditure trends, including by fund, department, expense or revenue type, gain insight into spending and revenues year-to-date and a five-year trend of what the town spends overall.

by Kimberly Wetzel, The Chronicle, Willimantic, Conn. / April 16, 2016

(TNS) -- Townspeople will be able to use a new tool that essentially allows them to view the town’s finances from their own homes.

The Town of Coventry has launched new digital access to residents, elected officials and staff to the town’s finances.

Called “OpenGov,” it will allow people to view year’s worth of government spending and it’s just in time for people to be able to utilize it as a tool for the current budget proposal.

“We’re excited to get this out and share the information with the public, especially with our annual town meeting coming up, so people can look at trends and do their own evaluation of the budget,” said Coventry Town Manager John Elsesser.

Elsesser said there are very few towns in the state that have this technology, but he anticipates more towns will likely incorporate programs such as this in the future.

“There is a big open data movement across the country,” Elsesser said.

He welcomes townspeople to view the town’s “check book” from the finance page on the town web site, or at coventryct.opengov.com, prior to a town vote on a $ 40,550,802 combined town and school budget proposal.

The proposal would maintain the mill rate of 31.2, leaving the tax bill at $4,520 for a medium house in Coventry, which is now assessed at $144,900.

The town was originally looking at a 0.1-mill increase.

There will be a town meeting on the budget proposal that does not impact the current mill rate on Saturday, April 23 at 10 a.m. in the Coventry High School auditorium.

The meeting will adjourn to a May 3 referendum.

The online portal shows spending of major departments, such as the police department and public works, how much revenue is received from property taxes and how much is spent on capital improvements.

“It’s the people’s money,” Elsesser said. “Let them see how we’re spending it.”

Elsesser said some people may be able to answer their own questions by looking at the financial information online, while it may raise more questions for others.

“It’s part of a dialogue and we welcome it,” he said.

The town council first heard a presentation on this project in the fall of 2014 and, while this program is strictly voluntary, it also allows for the town’s finances to be “more transparent,” according to Elsesser.

Users to the portal can view revenue and expenditure trends, including by fund, department, expense or revenue type, gain insight into spending and revenues year-to-date and a five-year trend of what the town spends overall.

Elsesser said town officials welcome any input as to what townspeople would like to see, or how to make it easier for residents to navigate.

©2016 The Chronicle (Willimantic, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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