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Town unveils online budget tool

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Arlington rolled out an interactive online tool Tuesday that will provide residents with easier and better access to information about the annual budget and how it is developed. Management analyst Michael Bouton presented the tool, called Arlington Visual Budget, to the Board of Selectmen during its meeting Monday night. The system converts the town’s revenues and expenditures to simple graphics and charts that describe Arlington’s finances. It also provides definitions for complex budgeting terminology, and includes a tool where residents can input their yearly property tax bill and find out exactly how the town spends their tax dollars. Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said one of his department’s biggest challenges is informing citizens about the budget and where the money goes. He also said a survey last year found that residents wanted more concise online information about the town’s finances. He said residents can’t use the website to give the town feedback about the budget, but in the future there may be a way for them to detail their spending priorities. A link to the Arlington Visual Budget site has been posted on the Budget & Information page on the town’s website, www.arlingtonma.gov.

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