In the spirit of complete transparency, the Village of New Boston became the first government body to put their checkbook online Wednesday. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced the launch of New Boston’s online checkbook on OhioCheckbook.com.
Jamie Barker from Mandel’s office, was in the Village and took the time to show a presentation to New Boston Clerk/Treasurer Lana Loper and New Boston Mayor Junior Williams.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the online checkbook,” Barker said. “Our number one goal is transparency so taxpayers can see where their money is spent.”
Barker said when Mandel found Ohio, it was 46th in the nation in transparency, he set about to turn that around. In December 2014, Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com, which he says sets a new national standard for government transparency, and for the first time in Ohio history puts all state spending information on the internet. The result? OhioCheckbook.com recently earned Ohio the number one government transparency ranking in the country for the second year in a row.
“We think this is a great service,” Loper said. “The citizens can know where their taxes are going.”
Loper said she is in the process of being trained.
“They time it to where it is online right before he (Barker) does the demonstration,” Loper said.
Barker said, while the checkbook is now online, people need to know revenue is not reflected on the site. He said the online checkbook is easy to read and easy to follow and can be broken down in several different ways to make it simpler to look for individual expenditures.
“I believe the people of Scioto County have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, and I applaud local leaders here for partnering with my office to post the finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” Mandel said. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”
In Scioto County the only other entity participating in the online checkbook is the Southern Ohio Port Authority, which has been involved for two years.
“The reason we thought it was important is that it’s very important to be transparent,” SOPA Director Jason Kester said. “We’ve got funds that come in from public, we’ve got funds that come in from private/public partnerships, public/public partnerships, so just trying to keep track of all that and let the public know all those different pots of money, how they mix together, people can see that.”
Portsmouth City Auditor Trent Williams says he expects to see the city online soon.
“As I said at that (City Council) meeting, it wasn’t the highest priority,” Williams said. “It’s something that I have intended to do have completed by the end of the year. As far as I can tell, it’s still on schedule.”
Scioto County Auditor David Green said he is still looking into the possibility of bringing the county’s checkbook online.
“We’re also seeing a reduction in public records requests,” Barker told the Daily Times.
The New Boston online checkbook can be found by going on OhioCheckbook.com, looking in the right corner and clicking on “Local Governments,” and typing in – New Boston, or by going direct to newboston.ohiocheckbook.com.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.