Sunday, May 15, 2016

WNBA Data Visuals: 2015 Season

I made a series of data visuals to understand the WNBA. Preview below; the full blog is posted at my new dynamic site (for mobile-responsive data views).


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

City of Atlanta Budget, FY2017

The City of Atlanta recently released their proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The city provides a 640-page document explaining the budget, as well as interactive data visuals in the Atlanta Budget Explorer (ABE). I was part of the team that created ABE in 2014 after we built a prototype in a city hackathon. To supplement the information in ABE this year I created the interactive visuals below to explore the 2017 proposed budget.

The first visual shows the 2017 budget by department, and the changes from the 2016 budget in both dollar amounts and as a percentage. The visual is interactive; click a department to view spending by office and account.


The data show the police department is the largest city department at $181.39 million, which is a $6.8 million increase from 2016, or 3.9%. However, if you click on the police services, you'll see that the budget for uniform patrol has dropped by 1.5% (closer to 3% in real terms, assuming inflation). The Account drill-down shows that total salaries for sworn officers is increasing by 2.1%, so the decline in uniform patrol spending does not indicate a decline in the total number of officers. The budget book (p. 75) confirms there is not a decline in staff. 

The largest increase in the police department is $6.29 million for "SSP Administration". Consulting the budget book (p. 351), I can see that "SSP" is the "Strategy and Special Projects Division". However, it is unclear to me whether the SSP increase is new spending, or just a re-organization of existing services (perhaps out of uniform patrol, explaining the decrease). This is a good example of the breadth and limitations of the budget data used to create the visuals. As one might expect, the budget data set does not have detailed department descriptions or narratives. Therefore, the budget book is a useful compliment. For more detail, you can attend the public hearing on May 12 or email the city council.

The next visual shows budget changes by department over time. This visual is also interactive by clicking a department.


This view shows which departments have been consistently growing, such as city council, whose budget rose from $6.37 million in 2013 to a proposed $12.71 million in 2017.

The last visual shows revenue, both the 2017 amounts and the multi-year changes.


Property tax is the largest source of city revenue, but the visual shows the city raises money in several different ways. Property tax revenue is projected to fall this year, despite the city's growth. This is because some of the city's new construction falls in Tax Allocation Districts and due to roll-backs from the Georgia Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The visuals above only show budget and revenue from the city's general fund. Both ABE and the budget book have more details on other funds, such as special revenue.

Of course the budget data and budget book don't answer every question about the budget (and can't be expected to do so), but both the level of detail and the accessibility of the information are impressive.

Update: Councilman Alex Wan has a nice Youtube video encouraging engagement in the budget process.