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Jacksonville City Councilors Want To Help Public Follow Money Spent On Projects

Lindsey Kilbride


Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri says he wants to increase the transparency of city contracts. He says the public should be able to follow what happens after the city awards a contractor a project.

“A good example is the courthouse, how we started at $160 million, who got what, and follow that all the way down to the $350 million plus that they ended up with,” he says. “Somewhere along the line the public has a right to know what happened, besides what’s reported in the media. How much does it cost? Who's still doing business with us? Who's still on the contract, who's not? And how much money have we lost as a result of that?”

With that goal in mind, Hazouri and Councilwoman Lori Boyer checked out an online tool called OpenGov Friday morning. After a demonstration of the program, they said it seems better suited for displaying city budgets than contracts.

But they like how it allows taxpayers to interact with the budget using graphs and searchable data. It’s a step up from the PDF budget documents the city uploads to its website now. The city of Miami uses OpenGov already.

However, Boyer says Jacksonville doesn’t manage all its data in one system, and it’s scattered.

“We have what you call pockets of information,” she says.

So it  could be difficult to input it all into the OpenGov system. She says the city has been looking into purchasing a new system to consolidate records.

If the city does opt for the OpenGov system, it runs $60,000 to $65,000 a year. A more basic version is about half that.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.