By Sandi Latimer
Residents of Prairie Township have the opportunity to go online and see how the township is spending taxpayer dollars.
The township has joined the state Treasurer’s office on the www.ohiocheckbook.com site to provide a look at how the money is being spent and who is getting paid.
A visit to www.prairietownshipfranklin.ohiocheckbook.com reveals five years of spending. Visitors will find colorful bar graphs for each year. Each color relates to a different department. Clicking on a particular color or department shows who was paid for what. And a copy of the check is just another click away.
If visitors have questions, they can fill out a form which goes directly to the township offices.
“Whether it is $2dollars for a box of pencils or millions for construction, it’s all right there for the taxpayers to see,” said Eric Ochmanek, deputy chief of state for Treasurer Josh Mandel.
“The program is a natural fit for Prairie Township’s ongoing efforts to provide open government to its constituents as well as to the public in general,” said Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker. “The Prairie Township Board of Trustees is grateful to the treasurer’s office for providing this tool and is excited to see the Prairie Township site go live. The township has been pursuing providing this service since the treasurer’s office staff presented it at a Franklin County Township Association meeting in January.”
The treasurer’s office extended the invitation to more than 18,000 local governments, school districts, board and commissions shortly after the service began in late 2014. To date more than 620 different sites are available.
Prairie Township’s site went live March 31, the same day as Jackson Township They were the third and fourth townships in the county to join the service, following Jefferson and Plain townships. Franklin Township has committed to joining and work is being done on their site.
Township resident David Donofrio was one of the early users of the site.
“This is a good first step for township residents, but the key will be publicizing this service,” he said. “I have been a long-time advocate for township newsletters additional postings on the website and social media. Transparency on this website is important, but more important is ensuring people have the information to access it.”
He’s encouraged by what he has found on the site.
“It gives a nice overview of spending in the various different categories and I also notice that in recent months, the labeling of expenditures is becoming more specific,” he continued.
“What I do notice is significant increases in some types of spending over others.
“Transparency is not just about publishing expenditures, but explaining them,” he said. ’Not every resident has the luxury to attend township meetings. Publicizing this website and then carefully labeling the overviews as well as specific line items will be a worthy investment of the township’s time, and provide a comprehensive record for us to use years down the line.”