"Balancing Act" Tool Lets Citizens Arrange FNSB Money

May 7, 2019

It is budget season for the Fairbanks North Star Borough – the Assembly meets this Thursday to vote on a spending plan. But citizens are expected to weigh in as well. Borough Mayor Bryce Ward has posted a tool online where citizens can show how they would spend taxpayer dollars.

On the borough website the administration has posted an interactive budget-balancing tool. Mayor Bryce Ward says they are calling it “Balancing Act.”

“It’s a really easy-to-use tool for the public to see where we are spending our money.”

It’s basically one page where a taxpayer or other user can click a category to increase or decrease spending or revenue. Then leave comments telling the Assembly why you like the changes. If you need more information, there are links to the borough budget as well as budget narratives, explaining the plan.

“It’s a great tool. Share it with your friend, they can basically re-do our budget, and then submit it to us. And then we are going to be able to share that information with the Assembly, so as we go into our budget discussions, we can take that into consideration.”

The administration says the platform is secure, no login is required, and no user information is kept. All comments are sent anonymously. So I’ll give it a try, and I’m looking at Capital Improvements on the spending side…clicking on it opens to $10 million in Facilities Maintenance… to take care of some of the backlogged maintenance.

So, I can reduce that amount a half-million dollars at a time… and I get a surplus. Or I can increase to pay for more maintenance… and now I’m in deficit. Maybe I’ll try another category.

 “This is the first year we are doing it, so its relatively simple. As we are able to make improvement over time, we are going to be able to get more granular, and get into some more of the details.”

You can also find it on the Borough’s Facebook page, where the Mayor announced the roll out.

Anyone who wants to give it a try should jump on it soon – before Thursday afternoon. The Assembly meets that evening to finalize next year’s budget plan.