Sandusky Register: Financial transparency arrives in Vermilion
By Andy Ouriel
November 1, 2017
VERMILION — Taxpayers funding Vermilion’s public operations can track exactly how local officials spend their money.
In partnership with the state treasurer’s office, local officials on Tuesday unveiled an online financial record keeping system showcasing thousands of monetary transactions.
The website, OhioCheckbook.com, spotlights specific information on how and where officials anywhere across Ohio expend tax dollars down to the penny.
Vermilion’s database includes more than 40,000 individual transactions representing about $90 million of total spending.
Going forward, city officials should periodically upload new financial information, when it becomes available, to the website.
Josh Mandel, the state treasurer overseeing the initiative, characterized this program as a way to create government transparency on an easily accessible digital platform.
“I believe the people of (Vermilion) 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,” Mandel said in a statement. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”
Vermilion joins more than 1,000 other public entities — such as local governments and school districts statewide, including Erie County and Perkins Township — in providing information to the website.
“OhioCheckbook.com will allow our citizens to see where their tax money is being spent and keep us transparent with public funds,” Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan said.
Added city finance director Brian Keller: “The OhioCheckbook.com initiative is an extremely valuable tool our community can access going forward. We hope it demonstrates our interest in being transparent about where public funds are being spent.”
Checking out OhioCheckbook.com
The website, overseen by state treasurer Josh Mandel, aims to create government transparency by placing publicly funded transactions on the internet.
Launched on Dec. 2, 2014, it marked the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure made in state government.
The website displays more than $621 billion in spending over the past 10 years, including more than 168 million transactions.
The website includes cutting-edge features, such as:
• Google-style search capabilities, allowing users to sort by keyword, department, category or vendor
• Fully dynamic interactive charts to drill down on state spending
• Functionality to compare state spending year-over-year or among agencies
• The capability to share charts or checks with social media network and direct contact for agency fiscal offices