A more accessible taxonomy for the City of Toronto Operating Budget Summary

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Henrik Bechmann

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Mar 4, 2015, 9:18:05 PM3/4/15
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I've assembled a dataset (with some difficulty) of the City of Toronto Budget Summaries going back to 2003 (I couldn't quite get back to amalgamation - 1998 - in this round). For presentation and analysis, I've created a better taxonomy for the detailed line items of the summaries, and using automation (Google App Script) created a fairly large set of time series for the data. Finally I've offered a preliminary analysis of the data.

My research report can be downloaded here, and the original google spreadsheets can be seen here.

The report has three things that may be of interest.

First, it offers a more accessible taxonomy for the City of Toronto Operating Budget Summary. So for example rather than 'Citizen Centred Services "A"' or 'Agencies' at a high level, it offers what I call program domains of 'Shared Services', 'Citizen Support Services', and 'Municipal Services'. The taxonomy rolls the 53 line items of the budget into 10 categories, and then rolls these categories into the aforementioned 3 domains. The introduction of the referenced report provides a Taxonomy at a glance which makes this clear.

Second, it applies this taxonomy to a time series of Toronto Operating Budgets from 2003 - 2015. The time series includes many variations of tables and graphs, including notably an inflation adjusted series (based on the Bank of Canada inflation calculator). The tables and graphs are automatically generated based on the annual budget summary tabs so that changes to the model can be made realistically.

Third, it offers a preliminary analysis of these time series, notably that the Toronto budget has gone up about 35% since 2003 on an inflation adjusted basis.

So there are lots of avenues available for investigation.

As mentioned above, the sheets themselves are available on google docs here, and if anyone wants the source code for the automated table and chart generation, I'd be happy to share that too, just let me know.

The brief background section in the report explains my history and interest in this.

I hope some of you find this interesting, and I would welcome any comments or questions.

All the best,

- Henrik 
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