Nothing to do on this lazy Saturday? You’re reading this so it’s likely you have a least a passing interest in spending and taxes? So why not stay indoors all day and dig through reams and reams of stimulus spending, state contracts and spending data in your community?
The state Comptroller’s office has a useful tool called Open Book New York (http://www.openbooknewyork.com), a website that allows visitors to track tax dollars throughout the government. You can view spending at the state and local levels in various categories, look up state contracts by agency, see how federal stimulus funds were used, delve into state spending on salaries and travel, and review expenditures for counties, towns, villages, cities and fire and school districts.
The data is updated annually so it may not have up-to-the-minute figures and it isn’t comprehensive – mostly broad categories of spending not line-item budgets. But it is useful for showing trends or finding some quick basics on contracts without having to go through the sometimes lengthy Freedom of Information process.
If you find something interesting, let us know in the comments.