Understanding Edmonton budget: City releases interactive online tool

EDMONTON – As council delves into municipal budget deliberations, the city has released an online tool citizens can use to get a better understanding of how and where the city could allocate funds for the 2016-2018 operating budget.

“It really provides the citizens an ability to drill down into our budget and gives them an idea as to how their tax dollars are being spent and even where the revenue that we generate comes from,” said Mike Dowler, director of budget development and planning for the city.

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The Open Budget tool includes charts and graphs that outline revenue streams and expenditures, which can be searched by fund, department or specific program. Those numbers can also be searched in chart form to compare funding for specific programs over time.

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“If you go on to the website and click through, it is very user friendly in terms of drilling down into the various components and it provides some graphical representation of the numbers as well,” said Dowler.

For instance, for the 2016 city budget, the program that receives the most financial support is police services, which is set to receive $400 million – or 13.2 per cent of the budget.

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Dowler hopes the tool will encourage feedback from residents and provide “just a better idea as to where their tax dollars are being spent.”

“Hopefully, it will provide some people with information that they might want to utilize to generate some questions for their councillors. Nov. 23 is the non-statutory hearing for people to come to council and ask any questions they may have on the budget.”

The data is all gleaned from Edmonton’s Open Data Catalogue.

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