Sitkans can now pull back the curtain on the city budget, thanks to new tools available on the municipality’s website.

City Administrator John Leach and Finance Director Melissa Haley joined KCAW for the Morning Interview on November 17. Leach said he has been hoping to make city finances more transparent since he interviewed for his job several years ago. A new dashboard on the city website allows users to see the numbers almost in real time, or as Leach said, “live financial information in your face.” 

However, it only goes so far.

“You’re not going to be able to drill in and find out, you know, how much gas we put in truck number 446 last Tuesday,” said Leach.

Haley said the new tools are both a way to keep city finances transparent and a window into her professional world.

“I live this detail every day,” Haley said. “So it’s nothing kind of new and exciting for me. But it’s detail that people haven’t been able to see before.” 

In addition to the Open Finance tool, a new “Balancing Act” tool allows users to run a simulation of the budget using real numbers. Leach said this should give residents insight into the give-and-take of managing the city’s finances – and share any advice they may have. 

“So they could say I think that the administrator should have less in his budget, and they can click and lower that and they can increase another department,” Leach said. “Or they could decrease all of them. They can really mess around with the numbers there and then submit that simulation to us on it with their recommendations.” 

KCAW’s Erin Fulton contributed to this story.