Sandusky Register: Erie County opens new chapter in financial transparency
February 7, 2017
SANDUSKY — The life of Erie County’s finances is now an open checkbook.
In partnership with the state treasurer’s office, local officials on Tuesday unveiled an online financial record keeping system showcasing thousands of monetary transactions.
The website, OhioCheckbook.com, spotlights specific information on how and where county officials spend tax dollars.
Erie County’s individual database includes more than 236,000 individual transactions representing about $868 million of total spending.
Going forward, county officials should periodically upload new financial information, when it becomes available, to the website.
Josh Mandel, the state treasurer overseeing the initiative, characterized this program as a way to create government transparency on a digital platform.
“I believe the people of Erie 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,” Mandel said. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”
Erie County joins more than 1,000 other public entities — such as local governments and school districts statewide, including Perkins Township — providing information to the website.
“One important goal of my tenure in Erie County auditor’s office is to be open, transparent and accountable to the taxpayers,” county auditor Rick Jeffrey said.
Financial records for Vermilion Township also went live on Monday.
“Vermilion Township is pleased to join the other entities in Erie County as leaders in transparency,” township fiscal officer Brenda Zsebik said. “We hope to use the checkbook application to improve our fiscal responsibility to our citizens.”
Checking out OhioCheckbook.com
The website, overseen by state treasurer Josh Mandel, aims to create government transparency by placing publicly funded transactions on the Internet.
Launched on Dec. 2, 2014, it marked the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure made in state government.
The website displays more than $564 billion in spending over the last eight years, including more than 153 million transactions.
The website includes cutting-edge features, such as:
- Google-style search capabilities, allowing users to sort by keyword, department, category or vendor
- Fully dynamic interactive charts to drill down on state spending
- Functionality to compare state spending year-over-year or among agencies
- The capability to share charts or checks with social media network and direct contact for agency fiscal offices