GREENVILLE — A representative of the State of Ohio Treasurer’s Office approached Greenville City Council during Tuesday night’s meeting with a proposal to improve the city’s financial transparency.
Senior Public Affairs Liaison Lauren Bowen told council she and other representatives are traveling throughout the state, encouraging local municipalities to make their expenditures available online to the public through the state’s OhioCheckbook.com application.
Bowen said Ohio has already created the searchable database, which displays the state’s finances, and the same system easily could be incorporated into the City of Greenville’s website, at no cost to the city.
“We have the technology and the know-how in order to achieve this,” she said, noting more than 1,000 municipalities throughout Ohio are, or will be, using the application.
Bowen said she would like to see the Treasurer’s Office and council work together “to publish your expenditure information online in a digital format, so that your taxpayers also have a resource to understand how their money is being spent.”
When Bowen asked if she could meet with council’s Finance Committee, Council President John Burkett said, “Our Finance Committee only meets on an as-needed basis. They have just met to review the 2019 appropriations … and until such time as they might review in October or November, the final appropriations, I don’t know, unless something comes up, that there will be a committee assignment. A special meeting could be held by them.”
He suggested instead that Bowen schedule a meeting with City Auditor Roxanne Willman.
Willman, who said she previously has discussed OhioCheckbook with other municipalities, expressed hesitance toward the program.
“No, it doesn’t cost any money right now, but down the road it’s probably going to cost us something,” she said. “They’re not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
“I am more than willing to talk to them and find out what their plans are down the road, and what they’re willing to offer us, but that was one of the reasons I did not jump on board at the time they were originally starting this up.
“Down the road, we may not have a choice. I have a feeling that eventually, because this is a big initiative for them, that they’re going to mandate it,” she added.
“I like the idea of the added transparency that offers,” Councilman Mark Whitaker said.
Currently in Darke County, the Villages of North Star and Gettysburg are the only municipalities that have signed on to OhioCheckBook to display their respective spending.