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Fresh on the heels of asking residents for their opinions via an electronic survey, the City of Murphy is taking yet another step toward openness and transparency by launching an online platform that provides access to the City’s financial records, says IT Manager Wendle Medford.
“The platform is powered by OpenGov, a pioneer in creating access to municipalities’ financial records,” he said. “Now, Murphy residents can have unrestrained and user-friendly access to how taxpayer money is collected and spent.”
The OpenGov platform displays detailed records of municipal spending and collection in a user-friendly portal. Users can view revenue and expenditure trends over time and explore multiple views of financial data, including by fund, department, expense, or revenue type.
“Visitors to the platform may answer questions such as ‘What type of expenses are paid out of the General Fund?’ or ‘How does the city divide the General Fund among the various departments?’ and then share that information directly from the platform via email or on social media,” he said.
The platform has a powerful graphic interface that allows for the information to be displayed in a number of ways. The main view includes a chart or graph, a legend and various controls to view expenses or revenues by various funds, departments, or types. Once the data is selected, there are five different ways to visually represent the data. These include an area graph, an area graph by percentage, a line graph a pie chart and a bar chart.
“Users can change the view by type at any point by selecting a different type of graph representation,” said Medford. “That same data will automatically convert to the newly selected graph. This makes it easy to choose the graph type that best illustrates the information.” The portal is extremely easy to use and allows for constant updating, ensuring the latest information is available for viewing and analyzing.
City Manager James Fisher says the OpenGov platform is another way the City is living up to its commitment of full transparency. “We want the citizens of Murphy to have all the information at their disposal that shows how we are using the funds that they entrust us with. Being proper stewards of public funds is something we take extremely seriously, and this platform is a way for citizens to hold us accountable,” he said.
Even citizens with little or no budgeting or financial management experience can look through the material and gain an understanding of the City’s financial picture. Significantly, The City’s check registry is also online, allowing viewers the ability to track municipal expenses.
The Texas State Comptroller's Office has suspended a certification program called the Leadership Circle given to cities which meet certain financial transparency targets. While the City of Murphy has met those targets, it must wait for the state office to restart the certification program to apply. Click here to access the OpenGov platform.