Monday, January 7, 2013

Where’s Roanoke City’s budget?

Roanoke City’s Website – Find the Budget.

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government looked on the websites of 134 cities and counties to rate how easy it was to find their annual budget – That is if it was online at all. If it was online how many clicks did it take to get to it? Was it hidden or did it take more of a “hunt and click” to get to it.

Another test was to determine if the budget was posted in its entirety and were there past budget years listed as well. Having a summary in the hundreds of pages of financial gobbledygook was essential as was the ability to search the file for keywords like “revenue or debt.”

The locality may not call it a “budget.” It could be a “fiscal plan” or as Roanoke City once called their budget a “Resource Allocation Plan.” Roanoke City has their budget online as far back as fiscal year 2001-2002. The budget then was $192 million and reached its height in 2008 at almost $260 million. The fiscal year budget for 2012-2013 has shrunk with the struggling economy to $252 million.

The five-year Capital Improvement Project plan is also on the city’s website. The plan is updated every fiscal year. The $99 million of five-year projects is broken down by project and dollar amount per year.

Total outstanding long-term liabilities of the City of Roanoke on June 30, 2012 was $265 million with total interest due on these long-term liabilities at about $90 million.

Roanoke received a respectable “B” rating that could be due to taking about three clicks to get to it and particularly finding where it is tucked away. It makes sense where it is located but citizens not familiar with the names of city departments may have trouble “hovering” at the top of the page to locate the Department of Management and Budget.

The top rated locality was Fairfax City. The budget was easy to find and took only one click to get to explained the VCOG. Among the other counties receiving an “A” rating were Franklin and Bedford. The 26 that failed had no budget online at all or only had old budgets.

Lynchburg, Virginia Beach, Richmond and Staunton received “C” ratings mainly because it took five clicks to get to it. It took six clicks to get to King George County.

If you haven’t been on Roanoke City’s website it is: www.roanokeva.gov. At the top hover over Departments and select Management and Budget. Look to the left and select Budget Documents or Capital Improvement Program.

Read the full VCOG report HERE.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary, Community, Education

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