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New City Website Lets You Play With Graphs To (Sorta) See Where Your Taxes Go

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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is giving you a chance to use your Excel knowledge with a new website that shows where city tax money goes in adjustable graphs.Mayor Garcetti unveiled The Open Budget Portal Wednesday, which he says “gives residents a better way to see how their tax dollars are being collected and spent,” City News Service reported. The site has revenue and expense data by department from 2009 to this year.

So what can you tell from the site? Specifics by project, for instance, aren’t available, but you can see that regular wages have gone up over the past couple of years, after dropping the couple of years before, for instance. Regular wages paid to city employees went up to $4.58 billion in 2013-2014, up from $4.42 billion in 2012-2013.

You can also see that transportation spending has dropped pretty sharply over the past few years.

The site seems to be a bit more user-friendly and general than the last spending site the city unveiled, controllerdata.lacity.org, which Controller Ron Galperin released in October.

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However, there’s reason to be skeptical at this newfound transparency from the mayor’s office. After saying his process of reviewing city departments and asking general mangers to reapply to their jobs would be transparent so that the public “can hold our feet to the fire,” requests by news organizations like LA Weekly to see the memos submitted by general managers were denied.

Garcetti is releasing his first budget as mayor next month. City officials estimate a $242 billion budget for 2014-2015.