(Posted Feb. 18, 2016)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Plain City residents can now go online to see how village officials are using their tax dollars.
Plain City is the latest political entity to sign on to www.OhioCheckbook.com, a website established in December 2014 by state Treasurer Josh Mandel. Plain City is the first entity in Union County to put its finances online for public access. Monroe and Paint townships in Madison County will soon follow suit.
Plain City residents can go to www.plaincity.ohiocheckbook.com to find the village’s financial figures for the past three years. The information represents over 7,000 transactions involving over $10 million for that period of time.
Representatives from Mandel’s office demonstrated the website at an event held Feb. 11 in Plain City. Among those who attended were Plain City Mayor Darrin Lane, village administrator Kevin Vaughn, fiscal officer Renee VanWinkle, and police chief Dale McKee. Also in attendance was Monroe Township fiscal officer Connie Troyer.
“I can see how it’s going to be of benefit at council meetings,” Lane said.
When council members discuss the wants and needs of various village departments, they can open the checkbook page to see how much money a particular department has in its budget, how it has been spent to date, and how much is left.
Troyer said she looks forward to when Monroe Township’s checkbook page goes live, monroetownship.ohiocheckbook.com.
“It’s important for the residents to know how we are using their money,” she said.
Cindy Mace, Paint Township fiscal officer, later commented, “I wanted to make information available to the people so they could educate themselves on township affairs.”
In the time since Mandel launched the site, Ohio has climbed to the top spot in the nation for government transparency. More than 500 political jurisdictions have already signed on to the site.
“I believe the people… have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, and I applaud local leaders for partnering with my office to post the finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” Mandel said in pre-pared remarks shared at the demon-stration.
Last April, four months after he launched the site, Mandel sent letters to 18,062 local government and school officials inviting them to place their financial information on the site. By early this month, the site has had nearly 500,000 searches.