A new system that the city of Bexley is considering would give residents increased access to track where their tax dollars are going, officials say.

A new system that the city of Bexley is considering would give residents increased access to track where their tax dollars are going, officials say.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Bexley City Council is scheduled to vote on the third and final reading of an ordinance allotting $5,500 for the city to license a two-year subscription to the OpenGov Transparency software. The software enables governments to publish budget data online, making it available to the public.

"What you're doing is taking complex financial information and putting it into an easy-to-use format so it allows non-financial professionals to process complex data," said Jared Borg, an OpenGov representative who demonstrated the software at council's Aug. 23 meeting.

The city can use the two-year OpenGov subscription as a trial run to gauge public interest, Councilwoman Lori Ann Feibel said.

"I like the idea that for the next two years, we can see how many hits we get," she said. "We can see if the public's going to use the tool and how we're going to let people know we have this tool ... so we can get our money's use out of this."

OpenGov can also enable council members to track city finances without submitting requests to the city auditor and finance director, said Councilwoman Deneese Owen, chairwoman of the Finance Committee.

"I see it as access to information so I don't have to ask our staff and ... the public gets access to it, too," she said.

OpenGov could also help educate the public about the city's financial needs, Councilwoman Mary Gottesman said.

"If we were ever in the position that we were going to the public for a levy, it helps us make our case about why we're going this way and not some other way," she said. "I just think it helps the public understand why you're coming to them."

More than 1,000 governments across 46 states use OpenGov, according to the company's website. It is used for a variety of purposes, such as the city of Edgewood, Ky., which publishes police statistics, Borg said.

"You can really share anything you want. It doesn't have to be financial information," he said. "There's an unlimited amount of information you can put out there."

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