Bryan Times: Edgerton, St Joseph join in transparency movement
By Josh Ewers
July 18, 2017
EDGERTON — The Village of Edgerton and St. Joseph Township became the third and fourth entities in the county to join an Ohio’s Treasurer’s Office initiative to increase government transparency statewide Tuesday morning.
Village officials were joined by Treasurer’s Office Public Affairs Officer Andrew Coutts as the village made official its membership in Ohiocheckbook.com, a website that shows in-depth reports and various breakdowns of participating government entities’ spending, including even information on individual transactions.
Edgerton and St. Joseph Township join Stryker, Blakeslee and Hicksville as local entities involved in the initiative. Edgerton Local Schools is currently considering joining as well.
“We wanted to be transparent because we have recovered (from a Fiscal Emergency designation) and we plan on moving forward,” said Edgerton Village Administrator Dawn Fitzcharles. “I think there’s still a lot of people out there that we haven’t gained their trust back. We thought this would put our best foot forward in being transparent.”
St. Joseph Township Fiscal Officer Cathy Kimpel said her township is “proud to offer the citizens of our township a new age of transparency. The online application will help us continue to make fiscally efficient and responsible decisions.”
According to Edgerton officials, updates will be made to the village’s online information, which includes easy to read charts and graphs, on a quarterly basis initially, with more frequent updates possible in the future.
“I’m excited about the visual tool. I think it will help not only citizens but maybe some of our council and finance committee visualize what we’re telling them rather than it just being a number,” Fitzcharles said. “It will be helpful for analysis and comparison.”
Currently, Edgerton’s online checkbook shows over 19,600 individual transactions representing $10 million in spending over three years.
St. Joseph Township’s shows over 1,000 individual transaction representing more than $821,000 in total spending over three years.
“I believe the people of Williams County have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, and I applaud local leaders here for partnering with my office to post the finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” said State Treasurer Josh Mandel in a prepared release. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”
Information can be accessed by going to Ohiocheckbook.com and searching for a given municipality or school district.