Mt. Sterling unveils financial transparency web page

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The village of Mount Sterling recently unveiled its page on OhioCheckbook.com, a government finances transparency site coordinated by the Ohio Treasurer’s Office. On hand for the announcement were: (front row, from left) village council members Tom Ward, Becky Martin and Tammy Vansickle; Rebecca Burns, council president; Lauren Bowen, Ohio Treasurer’s Office senior public affairs liaison; (back row) Courtney Bricker, village fiscal officer; council member David Timmons; Mayor Billy Martin; and council member Lowell Anderson.

(Posted Feb. 28, 2018)

By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer

At their Feb. 26 meeting, Mount Sterling village council unveiled the village’s new OhioCheckbook.com page.

Representatives from Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s Office were on hand to demonstrate the site and answer questions.

“Every last dime of taxpayer money is tracked here, and this really paints a picture of the good work the people of the village are doing,” said Lauren Bowen, senior public affairs liaison for the Ohio Treasurer’s Office. “This is a great tool that is easy to understand and navigate to review every expenditure.”

Launched by Mandel’s office in 2014, OhioCheckbook.com is a free, online tool that allows local governments and school districts to share with the public every expenditure they make so that residents can see exactly how their tax dollars are being spent.

Using a Google style search function, users can search for financial information by department, vendor, year and program.

“The launch on this tool has taken the state from 46th (in the United States) in transparency to first,” said Mary Crall, public affairs liaison for the Ohio Treasurer’s Office. “(The Mount Sterling) page will show four years of spending data and includes 5,441 transactions.”

Currently, data from 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 is on the website. The Ohio Treasurer’s Office recommends that OhioCheckbook.com participants update their data once a year with the previous year’s data.

Mount Sterling is the fourth municipality in Madison County to post its spending on OhioCheckbook.com and one of more than 1,300 communities in the state participating in the free resource.

“The village of Mount Sterling is committed to rebuilding communication, trust and transparency with our residents,” said Rebecca Burns, council president.

“We are proud to partner with the Ohio Treasurer’s Office to make it easier for the community to access and understand our village expenditure information. Launching OhioCheckbook.com is just one example of the efforts we are making to move the village forward on a positive path.”

Another beneficial feature of the site is that residents can flag expenses and ask the village’s fiscal officer for more information.

“You can click on transactions for more information and can mark if you have a question,” Crall said. “Courtney (Bricker, village fiscal officer) will see these questions and can address them.”

Village officials said they hope that residents will use the site often.

“I encourage all residents to ask questions,” Bricker said. “We will get back to you in a timely manner.”

The direct link to the local page is mountsterling.ohiocheckbook.com.

In other discussion at the Feb. 26 council meeting, Jack Dill, parks and recreation director, shared information about upcoming events.

“We are going to do a Family Feud night, and it will be just like the TV show. We will have two or three games on a Saturday night and six families can participate,” Dill said.

“We also will be doing a movie night around 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 16. We will have free popcorn and area restaurants will offer family deals so attendees can get dinner before the movie.”

While no date has been set for the Family Feud event, families who want to participate can register now at www.mtsterling.org.

“The goal of these events is to get people outside and coming together as a community,” Dill said. “We want to bring people together in a family-friendly environment. These will hopefully be the first of a variety of fun new programming in the village.”

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