(Posted Nov. 10, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The city of London is the 11th governmental entity in Madison County to partner with OhioCheckbook.com.
A service of the Ohio Treasurer’s Office, the website allows governments and school districts to put their financial transactions online for the public to view.
While London council members support the partnership, some were surprised the move was made without a vote from council.
“I didn’t know it was a done deal,” said council member Brenda Russell after representatives from the state welcomed the city to the service and presented a brief overview at council’s Nov. 2 meeting.
Mayor Patrick Closser said council approval is not required for a city to join OhioCheckbook.com. Council member Trint Hatt worked with the state office to launch the partnership. He and Closser apologized to the other council members for not making it clear that they were moving forward.
The confusion, council president Joe Russell explained, stemmed from the fact that earlier this year, council voted down legislation calling for its support for joining the service. Council member Josh Peters said the vote was based on a recommendation of city auditor Nick Szabo.
Szabo said he has since learned more about OhioCheckbook.com and now fully supports the city being a part of it.
“It was a matter of timing. When the legislation was introduced earlier this year, we were just wrapping up an audit and I wasn’t familiar with (the service),” he said.
Now that he knows more about it, he said he views it as a positive for the city and the citizens.
“Any way we can present the numbers to the community and council, I’m for it,” Szabo said.
Council members have since learned more about the service, as well.
“I think it’s great that we’re doing it,” Peters said.
Council member Rex Castle considers participation in OhioCheckbook.com to be “an asset to everyone.” Hatt says it’s “a valuable resource.”
“It’s all about transparency,” Closser said.
London’s online checkbook includes over 17,000 individual transactions that represent more than $35 million in total spending over the past three years. The information can be accessed by going to London.OhioCheckbook.com.
The State Treasurer’s Office provides the service at no cost to participating governmental entities.
The city’s new water treatment plant is nearly complete. Stan Kavy of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) said an open house is set for early December. The city is dedicating the plant, located on State Route 142, to the late Bill Blazer, former BPU chairman.
Upcoming committee and board meetings are as follows: historic review, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.; public safety committee, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.; city council, Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m.; tree commission, Nov. 21 at 5 p.m.; public utilities, Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m.; city properties, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. All meetings take place in city council chambers at 6 E. Second St. The exception is the public safety committee, which meets at the police station.