We applaud the COWncil and staff for the recent addition of the Financial Transparency Portal on the towns website. It is a big step forward for a Town where transparency has been a myth. Check it out here.
It will allow you to see charts and graphs of revenue and expenses and break them down into component parts. What is missing is the answer to the questions that the charts raise.
• What are staff salaries per position (not lumped together) and how many positions?
• How does that compare to other similar communities?
• Why have planning costs skyrocketed?
• To what extent are permit/planning fees actually cost recovery? How much of the collected fees initially collected are refunded?
• How do the fees and time spent on planning compare with other communities?
• What is the public safety money actually spent on?
• What are the actual costs of various public works expenses such as road repair, vegetation removal, etc.
• How does the revenue from road impact fees actually get spent?
We hear complaints all of the time about the total fees and charges for a simple home remodel or addition. How much do residents of other towns end up paying for similar approvals? These charts do not tell that story and we wonder if the town has researched this. We believe they should.
We don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth but we hope this is merely a first step in providing the information needed for an informed public.