For the first time ever, Ogden City has posted a version of its detailed, line-item budget on its public web site, http://ogdencity.com/en/government/city_budget.aspx.
Until now, the city has posted only a far less detailed version of its budget: the official version that the city council approves each June. Even the council members have rarely, if ever, seen the line-item detail.
As an example, the expenses for the mayor’s office are broken into only five categories in the official budget, but into 28 categories in the line-item budget.
Last winter, however, Ogden citizen Dan Schroeder learned of the existence of a line-item budget printout kept in the city’s Finance Department. He filed a public records request for the document that was initially denied but finally approved after a time-consuming appeal.
Even then, the city refused to provide the document in electronic form, instead producing a 676-page printout and charging Schroeder $169 (25 cents per page) for it. At the time, Chief Deputy City Attorney Mara Brown stated that the city was refusing to release an electronic version because “we are able to track it as a record if it’s in print format” and because an electronic copy “can be manipulated.”
Schroeder then scanned the printed pages and, in early April, posted a searchable electronic version of the document on the Ogden Ethics Project web site (ogdenethics.org).
As the city’s new budget was being prepared this spring, city council member Amy Wicks specifically asked the administration to provide an electronic copy of the line-item budget.
The Ogden Ethics project wishes to thank council member Wicks for her successful efforts to promote government transparency. We also thank Mayor Mike Caldwell and Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson for their apparent change of heart in agreeing to make the line-item budget freely and conveniently available to all.