Candidate publishes detailed data on Philadelphia government salaries, contracts

    Want to know how much taxpayers paid for Mayor Nutter’s salary, the Welcome America Festival or City Council’s furniture?

    There’s a website for that.  

    On Tuesday, City Controller candidate Brett Mandel launched, a site where Philadelphians can see how their tax dollars were spent last fiscal year.  

    Not every part of the budget is on the site. For instance, you can’t find information about Philadelphia’s capital spending. But you can take a look at public employees’ salaries, elected officials’ travel reimbursements and specific contracts, among other things.

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    The city of Philadelphia publishes budget data regularly, but it isn’t as detailed. 

    “You can see what every single dollar paid for,” Mandel said. “What every single official in the government got paid. What every single thing the government bought cost.”

    Given the scale of the site, it was impossible for a reporter to confirm every part of it. Mandel said he made it using city data, which he obtained through a Right-to-Know request.  

    The city of Philadelphia is working on a similar project: a budget app for smartphones.

    Adel Ebeid, the city’s Chief Innovation Officer, said his team is double-checking its data before unveiling the app. 

    “We thought it was more important to make sure we’re publishing accurate data than just releasing an app and getting a headline,” Ebeid said. “Regardless of who releases it, the public is always the winner in the end.”  

    Ebeid said the city app should be ready soon.

    Mandel is running against incumbent Alan Butkovitz in this year’s City Controller race. Butkovitz said he applauds transparency, but that Mandel’s site doesn’t do anything to solve Philadelphia’s problems.

    Mandel, on the other hand, said more data will help leaders make better budget decisions.

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