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City Lays Out Finances For All To See On 'OpenBridgeport'

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, center, explains OpenBridgeport, the city's new online financial portal, on Thursday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, left, and state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, second from left, unveiled OpenBridgeport Thursday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Bridgeport new OpenBridgeport portal allows taxpayers to see exactly where their money is spent. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim contrasts city budget records from 1917 with the city's new OpenBridgeport online budget reporting system. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Bridgeport on Thursday unveiled OpenBridgeport, two online portals that will allow taxpayers to get an understanding of the city’s overall budget and expenditures — and even dial down to view each individual check cut by the city.

Mayor Joe Ganim, who pledged a more transparent and efficient government when he was elected Nov. 3, 2015, said Bridgeport is the first city in the state to lay its financial books out for anyone to see.

“It was about taking it to the next level,” Ganim said. “It’s your money, and now you are going to be able to see exactly how the city is spending it.”

The dual-module system, which can be found on the city’s website , consists of Open Budget and Open Checkbook , and residents can toggle between the two, searching real-time financial information.

The city’s $552.49 million budget is broken down into user-friendly piecharts as well as detailed line item expenditures showing how much and when the city pays employees and outside vendors. Records go back as far as fiscal year 2014, said Thomas Gaudett, a mayoral adviser on the months-long project.

Users can also compare current fiscal trends to past years’ spending.

Gamin admitted he didn’t come up with the idea. OpenBridgeport is modeled after OpenConnecticut, the state’s own open books system. Working with the state on an existing model cost the city about $2,000, but likely saved it 50 percent more, said City Finance Director Ken Flatto,

Working with the state also meant the city didn’t have to “reinvent the wheel,” said state Rep. Steve Stafstrom.

“Too often, I think, we don’t see state government working well enough with local government,” he said.

Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo attended the unveiling, saying he hopes more cities and towns will follow Bridgeport’s lead to easy-access fiscal accountability. Allowing taxpayers access to all financial decision-making encourages a more informed and confident populace, he said.

“This is the way government is moving,” he said.

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