Last week, officials with Treasurer John Mandels office were in Portsmouth to mark the launch of the Southern Ohio Port Authority, online checkbook on OhioCheckbook.com.
At the same event, the City of Portsmouth and the Village of New Boston announced their participation in the program.
Officials with the Scioto County Government have yet to announce participation in the program.
Scioto County Auditor David Green has taken a wait and see approach to the counties participation in the program.
“As I have said previously, I would like to wait until more counties go live before making a final decision. My understanding is that only 13 counties have gone live at this time,” Green said to the Daily Times in a released statement.
As of Monday afternoon, participating counties include: Butler, Clermont, Cuahoga, Delaware, Franklin, Hamilton, Jackson, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Stark, Warren and Wayne.
The Scioto County Commissioners have left the decision to participate or not participate up to Green.
Commissioners Mike Crabtree and Doug Coleman believe the program is a waste of time and county resources.
If Green decides to participate in the program, Scioto County Commissioners Bryan Davis, Coleman and Crabtree said they would respect his decision.
“From my personal perspective, I don’t care one way or the other. I’ve seen some of those online checkbooks, there’s very little information that goes online,” Crabtree said. “I looked at the one for Hamilton County and all they had was check numbers and amounts.”
He said the information was not informative and that same information could be accessed very easily from the courthouse.
“As far as I’m concerned, if the auditor’s office wants to do it, he’s free to do it. He’s also free not to do it, as far as I’m concerned,” Crabtree said. “As county commissioners I think it’s a bad habit to start micromanaging the other elected offices.”
Crabtree believes there is not enough significant information released to justify putting the county checkbook online.
“If people really want something they’re looking for they can get them from any county,” Crabtree said. “We’re (commissioners) are not holding anything up, but we’re not going to go down there and tell David Green what he can or cannot do when it comes to his office. I think that’s something he has to decide.”
Crabtree said even if the state is offering this free, the county still has to have someone uploading the information on county time.
Coleman echoed Crabtree’s comments in saying the same information that appears on an online checkbook can be obtained by going to the courthouse and requesting it.
Davis echoed Coleman and Crabtree’s remarks in saying the decision to participate or not to participate is up to Scioto County Auditor David Green.
“It’s his decision to make and if David Green decides he wants to, then I’m fine with that because he knows his staffing requirements,” Davis said.
The office of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has an ongoing initiative aimed at getting local governments and associated agencies to place their checkbook online.
Mandel and his team put Ohio’s checkbook online first as an example of the systems capabilities.
OhioCheckbook.com was launched on December 2, 2014, marking the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure in state government.
As of February 16, 2016, there have been more than 464,000 total searches on the site. OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $506 billion in spending over the past eight years, including more than 137 million transactions.
Davis said the commissioners have agreed to support Green’s decision either way.
“Transparency is very important in government and anyone can walk into the Scioto County Courthouse right now and ask for any document they want,” Davis said. “Out of respect for him (Green) and his office, I think it’s very important that we wait to let David (Green) make that decision.”
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT
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