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Council votes for budget transparency

December 26, 2012

The City of Bishop will begin offering snapshots of its budget on its website early next year. Officials said it is currently unclear what the online service will be used for, but, in the interest of transparency, wanted to make it available to residents. Photo courtesy

Local leaders are giving the public an opportunity to get more information on the City of Bishop’s financial picture by providing a snapshot of the budget online.
Acting on a request from Bishop Councilmember David Stottlemyre, on Dec. 10 the City Council unanimously approved a month-to-month contract with the Delphi company to provide an Internet service that will provide residents with an inside look at the city’s finances.
Stottlemyre said he attended an Eastern Sierra Council of Governments meeting where representatives from Delphi discussed the program and its benefits to citizens.
“I see this as a pretty cool opportunity for us to be one of the leading agencies, getting up front on this software,” Stottlemyre said earlier this month. “It’s really quiet easy to work with.”
The City Council approved a six-month agreement to pay $249 a month for the software on a month-to-month contract that can be terminated at any time.
Stottlemyre said he has recently seen articles on government transparency in Western Magazine and other publications. “There’s a huge push for doing this,” he said. “In our case, it’s not necessarily a transparency issue, but a convenience. I would really like to give it a try.”
Bishop Accounting Secretary and Budget Manager Cheryl Solesbee said it is currently unclear who would use the free online program, and what for, but she did add that she could see some benefits.
“The benefits are going to be for the departments,” who will have easy, user-friendly access to their council-approved budgets when looking into projects and funding, Solesbee said. “I don’t know how much the public is going to use it, and what for, but we can stop it at any time.”
Solesbee added that she will be the first to try the new software. “I’ll be able to let you know if it doesn’t work,” she said.
One resident at the council meeting asked if local contractors would be able to check to see if the city has budgeted for projects it is going out to bid for.
“Our level of transparency will be whatever we put up there, and it can be added on to, but I don’t really think that information will be available,” Solesbee said.
Solesbee said that she could see the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce utilizing the program to check on the city’s budget and Stottlemyre said he already plans to use the information that will be posted. He added that the program can hold up to 50 years worth of city budget information.
“This is a more smart technology,” Stottlemyre said. “I would really like us to give it a try.”
With the council’s approval, the Delphi company transparency software will be up and running on the city website in early 2013.

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