At nearly every Portsmouth City Council meeting, First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson has asked Portsmouth City Auditor Trent Williams when the city would begin participating in the online checkbook system, which shows residents where every dollar is spent.
Each time it came up Williams would respond that he was working toward getting it done but it was not a top priority. This may be changing.
“All of the documentation and data necessary for the open checkbook has been submitted to the state,” Williams said.
Williams said the process is in the hands of the State Auditor’s Office and it shouldn’t take more than a week or two.
“It has begun and I will advise you of the next update whatever the earliest opportunity that there is,” Williams said.
“There’s something I can take off my report,” Johnson quipped.
“The process would be that once it’s billed then there would be some review time by my office to make sure that everything is as it should be and communicate back and forth with the builders at the State Auditor’s Office to make sure that everything is the way it needs to be before it goes live and then we’ll have an announcement that it is ready to go,” Williams said.
In the spirit of complete transparency, the Village of New Boston became the first government body in Scioto County to put their checkbook online in mid October of 2016.
“We think this is a great service,” New Boston Clerk/Treasurer Lana Loper said at the time. “The citizens can know where their taxes are going.”
When Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel looked at statistics, he found Ohio was 46th in the nation in transparency and 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.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.