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Government & Politics

Akron Councilman Pushing for Budget Software That Would Make Process More Open to Citizens

photo of Russ Neal
KABIR BHATIA
/
WKSU
City Councilman Russ Neal says using the online database will allow the public -- and his colleagues -- to better understand the city's budget.

Akron City Council is slated to vote tonight on legislation that could make its annual budget more accessible to the community.

Since summer, 2017, council has considered signing on to use Balancing Act software, which allows people to view the city’s budget documents.

Users can move money around and investigate how that can impact the budget and different departments. Ward 4 Councilman Russ Neal says not only will it lead to a better-informed public, but it will allow council to more easily monitor the budgeting process.

“What we’re talking about is a tool that will help us do our job better: be able to engage our constituents better and understand what they would like to see us do with funds. And, honestly, make our job easier, because we won’t have to guess.”

City Council has approved using the software, but not how to fund its cost of more than $8,000. Neal says tapping a neighborhood grant fund -- which has not been fully used -- would be a good place to start.

City officials have expressed concern about the staff time needed to manage the database. Neal says the software maker has offered to help with that.