Financial Dashboard: Where do your tax dollars go

jayccsf's picture

From the ResetSF launch event, transparency was a popular theme. As an open government advocate, I do believe in the well-known quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeisthat that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  SF is a leader in this space but we can do so much more. I'd like to see a financial dashboard that provides complete transparency as to where our tax dollars are going. Here is more detail from an amazing intern that worked for the City:

 

Ability to see the amount of taxes paid per capita on an individual, district, zip code and city-wide basis;
  • Ability to see the amount of City services per capita on an individual, district, zip code and city-wide basis;
  • Ability to find contact information for elected representatives on a district, zip-code and city-wide level that are responsible for City service delivery;
  • Ability to compare financial information for the current fiscal year with that of previous years.
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The data that will support the tool will be culled from existing public data sources such as SF Find/SFGIS, SF311, DataSF, and City departments such as the Budget Office and the Assessor Recorder’s Office.
 
Benefits:
 
By enabling SF residents to interact with a tool that lets them tie the amount of taxpayer dollars to the value of City services received, the City Resident Financial Dashboard aims to facilitate:
 
·       Increased government transparency that leads to greater public trust;
·       Increased citizen participation that engenders more inclusive public discourse, which leads to better public policy and greater public consensus;
·       Increased collaboration between government and City residents that fosters innovation, which leads to greater efficiency.
bobbyh's picture

Good idea

I think this is a great idea.  Anything we can do to let residents in on what happens in government is a beneft not only to residents, but to government.  I believe the immense amount of voter apathy today is largely derived from the very simple fact that voters know very little about how government really operates day to day.  By showing residents what the cost per unit of benefit is, they can make better informed decisions about how they want their government to operate and vote accordingly on candidates that share their views or ballot measures that accomplish their desires. 

We all want services, we all like schools, we all like libraries, but there is not an endless supply of revenue and we have to make strategic decisions about how we are spending that money.  Residents are busy with their everyday lives, raising kids, running a business, etc. and its unfortunate but true that a large majority of folks simply do not engage the local government process or really have all the facts about politicians/ballot measures that they vote on.  Tools like this that would empower residents through information, and that is ultimately how we can pull more folks into engaging locally.  It is hard to get passionate about something when you don't know the facts, and on the contrary, very easy to get riled up and have an opinion when you are provided factual information.  I would like to see something like this, and other open government tools, come to fruition to all of our benefit.

Phil Ting's picture

love this idea

The most important job of the Mayor and the Board is to appropriate and budget the money for the city.  Given our $6.5 billion dolalr budget it is extremely complicated to analyze and follow unless you do this for a living.  We need to create an easy tool for us to follow which will increase transparency and critical information at the same time.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137