Salinas City Budget: Now in Fun, Customizable Charts
January 23, 2013
Here’s a new tool for all you policy wonks, number nerds, and concerned citizens out there: a website that turns the city of Salinas’ budget into accessible, easy-to-read graphs and charts.
Delphi Transparency allows the public (and data-dazed city officials) to quickly the analyze the city budget through colorful, and customizable, charts.
It’s a useful accompaniment to the city’s standard 500 page budget document, says Matt Pressey, the city’s finance director.
“Our citizens will be able to see where their money is being spent with the click of a button,” says Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter.
The transparency tool provides five years of city data, including budgets for 2013 and 2014. The data can be filtered through specific departments, so, for example, you can see how much money goes to the the police narcotics department each year.
At a Salinas City Council meeting yesterday, after the website was unveiled, Councilman Tony Barrera wondered how many citizens would actually use the tool.
It may not be in the thousands, but it could be in the hundreds, Pressey said, optimistically.
The tool was created by Delphi, a startup backed by big name Silicon Valley investors. The chairman is Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of Palantir Technologies. Palantir, a secretive company that designs analysis tools used by governments and financial organizations worldwide, might be worth $8 billion, according to recent reports.
Delphi Transparency is also being used by Palo Alto and Saratoga.
Salinas gets a free trial of the tool for a year. After that it could have to pay $3,000 a month to keep the service running, says Delphi CEO Zachary Bookman.
The price would be negotiated based on the tool’s usage, according to Pressey, who says that $3,000 seems like a fairly high monthly price.
If the price holds and the city council likes the tool, we soon may see where those $36,000 big ones fit into a multi-color pie chart.