WEBSITE (27/32 points): The dity of Davenport has added new user-friendly functions to its website since Sunshine Week in 2016.
The homepage, cityofdavenportiowa.com, provides easy access to city departments, services, online bill pay, upcoming meetings, documents and more.
Under a “Quick Links” tab, users can access agendas for city council and committee-of-the-whole meetings, work sessions and special meetings dating back to Oct. 22, 2014. The committee-of-the-whole agendas include detailed board packets.
Also available are videos of meetings dating back to 2014, which are logged in the “Video Library” under “Quick Links.”
Contact information for elected officials is available under the “government” tab atop the homepage, but only email addresses are provided and not phone numbers.
By clicking on a specific department under the “departments” tab atop the homepage, you will find the name of the person who oversees that department, along with a general number and general email address for the city.
MEETINGS (20/25 points): The Times made a public records request via email, seeking the number of council meetings and executive sessions held in the past five years. Davenport City Administrator Corri Spiegel confirmed our request had been received 13 minutes after we filed it.
The following information was supplied in hard-copy form 10 days later by Deputy City Clerk Jackie Holecek at no cost: The city held 230 city council and committee-of-the-whole meetings from 2012 through 2016. In the same time period, there were 48 executive sessions, which means about 21 percent of all meetings were closed to the public in part.
Holecek also provided copies of minutes from the past five meetings when executive sessions were held. Minutes of executive sessions typically contain only the purpose of the meeting and the citation for the exemption allowing the closure under Iowa's Open Meetings Act.
BUDGET/FINANCIALS (35/35 points): The city budget for fiscal year 2017 can be found by searching “2017 budget” in the search box on the homepage of the city’s website. The document contains a 589-page downloadable PDF file.
The budget contains a table of contents and summary. The file has several graphics, including a particularly helpful pie chart for expenditures. The four-page glossary at the end of the budget is useful as well. The city budget for 2018 will not be ready until May, but a draft of the budget overview also is available on the city’s website.
Budgets dating back to 2006 can be found online simply by searching “budget” under “Document Center” on the homepage.
The Times also filed a request with the city to look at its expense reports for the week of Oct. 10-14, 2016. At no cost, Holecek supplied a 38-page report in hard copy form that lists every expense during that time frame.
Expenses for that week were $2,026,191.05 for vendor bills and $1,529,505.44 for payroll, for a total of $3,555,696.49.
RECORDS (10/10 points): New this year, public-records requests may be made online by selecting “Request City Public Records” from a drop-down menu under “Service Requests” on the homepage.
Filing a public-records request requires a full name, address, phone number and description of the record. Once submitted, the city provides a tracking number for the record, permitting the person who made the request to check its status. The city also provides notice of its intent to respond within 10 days, but it does not provide copying fees.
Holecek said the city is working on a way to make the application more visible on its website.
Last year, the Times reported that minutes and agendas for any time before Nov. 12, 2013, were not online and could be found only at the downtown Davenport Library. However, Holecek clarified that minutes and summaries of meetings dating back to June of 2006 were available on the city's website last year, but they were harder to find.
To find the dated documents, go to the "Document Center" on the homepage and follow the prompts.