The Office of the Washington State Auditor has a new tool for Mr. and Mrs. John Q. and Martha Q. Public to go for government financial accountability information called the Finance Intelligence Tool (FIT).
This data has always been (and still is) available through the Local Government Financial Reporting System (LGFRS), also provided by the Washington State Auditor. FIT presents data from a “snapshot in time” published “periodically” by the auditor’s office. The LGFRS offers the most recent data available in real-time to include late or corrected financial reports, but is difficult to use and does not provide benchmarks.
Perhaps the easiest way to navigate through a variety of search options is by using the map. Access the map by clicking on “Find a Government” on the left side of the webpage. Choose an approximate location on the map, and double click. This produces a list of all governments located within a relatively close proximity of the map click (city, local, county, etc.).
From here, select a government from the results list. The map will first re-center itself to the geographical location of the selected government and offer a “View Profile” button.
Selecting “View Profile” creates a Government Profile webpage with basic information about the selected government such as mailing address; website link; basis of accounting; and a link to historical financial reports. The Government Profile webpage also includes:
- annual filing data (revenues, expenditures, and total financial summary).
- financial health and scorecard in key areas (fund balance sufficiency and sustainability, debt load, current ratio, etc.)
- share of revenue by source,
- share of expenditures by department
- a side-by-side comparison between the selected government and the statewide averages of similar governments and their revenues and expenditures.
The Government Profile webpage for Spokane County shows during 2017, Spokane County had $475.8 million in revenues and $432.3 million in expenditures. We also quickly see 87% of revenues were from taxes (42%) and charges for goods & services (45%). 70% of expenditures were for social services (43%) and public safety (27%).
If you are looking for a little more than a basic summary of governmental revenues and expenditures, click on any section of the Government Profile webpage (annual filing data, financial health in key areas, etc.) to find more detail.
For example, the “Annual Filing Data” section offers “Revenues” and “Expenditures” for the selected government, as well as a “Total Financial Summary”.
Select “Revenues” to see a breakdown for seven governmental revenue sources, one of which is “Taxes”. Selecting “Taxes” provides greater detail on revenues from Property Tax; Retail Sales and Use Taxes; Business and Occupation Taxes; Excise Taxes in Lieu of Property Tax; and Other Taxes.
The FIT is easy to use and navigate while also providing easy access to the underlying data. Now, Mr. and Mrs. John Q. and Martha Q. Public can better inform themselves in less time than before.