Understanding Montclair’s Municipal Budget: A Webinar & Teaching to Empower Taxpayers to “Follow the Public Money”

On January 26th, 2022 I joined Montclair Councilor-at-large Peter Yacobellis for a zoom webinar about the Montclair municipal (aka town) budget. My portion of the webinar was a teaching about how to engage the public budget file, which is large, complex, but ultimately a primary source for understanding how the local government both collects and spends public monies.

My sincerest thanks to Councilor Yacobellis and Montclair residents Eileen Birmingham, Nolan Haims, and Colleen Dougherty for inviting me into this civic project. I enjoyed the work and learned a lot about another fantastic community in the Garden State.

The team volunteered time over the course of several months to dig into the details of the budget files, prioritize information that could reasonably be shared within a 1-1.5 hour zoom format, and construct a teaching that could live on beyond the 1-hour evening in later January. Our aim was to create both a high level overview but also a detailed teaching, in the hopes that residents and taxpayers would feel empowered to engage their local budget after the evening ended.

To that end, you can access a PDF copy of the presentation here. Please note that there are important footnotes, caveats, and other notes documented throughout the slides that are intended to help readers understand some of the nuance we worked through. This presentation, and the webinar, are intended not as an end point, but rather as a civic beginning (or perhaps continuation) for taxpayers who are interested in better understanding how they can use public data to follow public money.

See the full webinar below:

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