OhioCheckbook stirs debate in Franklin Twp.


By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

The state treasurer offered Franklin Township an opportunity to become more transparent with their constituency, but the township fiscal officer, Lisa Morris, is not on board.

At a recent trustees’ meeting, Spencer Gross, from the state treasurer’s office gave a presentation about OhioCheckbook.com and invited the township to participate. Morris said she was not interested in participating.

“OhioCheckbook.com is an online resource that cities, townships and municipalities in the state of Ohio can use to let taxpayers know how their tax dollars are being spent,” Gross said. “Communities can show where every penny is spent, including even posting checks that the township has made out to vendors. This resource is a great way to show residents that you are being fiscally responsible and also educate them on where you may need more money in the future.”

Residents can look at each department in their community and see how their money is being spent, including viewing the salaries of employees. This information is public record, however residents have to put in a public records request to see this information. This process takes time, while this website would allow all this information to easily be at resident’s fingertips.

“Ohio was ranked 46 in transparency and after this website was created, it is now number one,” Gross said. “We already have 210 communities that are using this and new communities are signing up every day.”

The township trustees were in favor of utilizing the free service and wanted to sign up.

“I think the public would like to see how their tax dollars are being spent,” said John Fleshman, trustee.

“I think this is great and could benefit the entire township,” said Don Cook, trustee. “As we continue to lose state funding, it will help residents to see where we are short and understand the financial situation this township is in.”

Elected Franklin Township fiscal officer Lisa Morris did not want the township to sign up for this service and said if the trustees approve it, she would not put the financial information on the site.

“How much time is this going to take me to do?” she asked. “Even if you approve this, I’m not going to do it,” she told the trustees.

Gross offered to guide Morris through the process and assured her it only takes approximately a half hour to upload all the documents. Morris still refused to participate.

Morris argued that even if it doesn’t take that long to upload, she is going to be answering all the phone calls when people start examining the township’s finances, something she said she has no interest in doing.

The trustees offered to help Morris, however she still objected.

“There are several other townships already participating in this service and there is no reason we shouldn’t do this,” said Cook.

After a lengthy debate between the trustees and the fiscal officer, the board decided to allow someone from Gross’s office to come in and walk Morris through the system. After the training, the board will decide if they want to move forward with signing up for the free system.

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