In an effort to make Buffalo's finances more transparent and accessible to the public, Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder has launched Open Book Buffalo, an interactive tool on his website that allows citizens to see how the city is spending their tax dollars.
"From the big picture down to the small details, Open Book Buffalo shows how the city is spending its money, with whom, and for what," said Schroeder. "It's the taxpayers' money - they deserve to know how it is being spent."
The web portal includes information on expenditures, revenue sources, vendor payments, payroll records. Users can also compare the current year's finances to previous years or to budget projections. All the information provided on the website is searchable and sortable, and is updated every two weeks.
"Whether you want to know how much was spent on overtime in a certain department or how much the City spent with a particular law firm, Open Book Buffalo can give you the answer quickly and easily," said Schroeder.
Schroeder said he wanted any financial information that is subject to the Freedom of Information Law to be available on Open Book Buffalo.
"Anyone who has ever had to request information through the Freedom of Information Law knows that it can often be an arduous and time consuming process," said Schroeder. "With Open Book Buffalo, you don't have to file a formal FOIL request and then wait for a response, you can get the information you want with a click of a mouse."
Schroeder said that an open, transparent government is vital to protecting taxpayer money.
"As a former member of the New York State Legislature, I can assure you, anything that is done in secret is usually not in the best interests of taxpayers," said Schroeder, pointing to recent corruption scandals in Albany.
"With Open Book Buffalo, the city's finances are out there for the whole world to see," said Schroeder. "This openness promotes accountability, efficiency, and citizen participation in government."