Port Clinton News Herald: Ottawa County shares government spending data online
Port Clinton News Herald
By Jon Stinchcomb
April 5, 2016
PORT CLINTON - Citizens curious about how their tax dollars are spent at the county level can now easily view Ottawa County’s entire checkbook online.
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced Tuesday the launch for Ottawa County, which now has every county expenditure from the 2010 through 2015 budgets available at OhioCheckbook.com.
Eric Ochmanek, Mandel’s deputy chief of staff, demonstrated the site to county commissioners James Sass, Mark Stahl and Jo Ellen Regal in a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Ottawa County Courthouse.
Lawrence Hartlaub, county auditor, lead the project for Ottawa County, gathering the data and working with various county department officials to ensure clarity.
The county’s checkbook includes over 150,000 transactions that represent more than $509 million of total spending over the past six years, and each can be examined individually or categorically.
“OhioCheckbook.com will provide Ottawa County with a great tool to increase transparency,” Hartlaub said. “We’re excited to be a leader in Northwest Ohio in transparency. This will be a great way to let our taxpayers have better access to our finances and track how their hard-earned money is being spent. We encourage everyone to utilize this free and easy program.”
Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com near the end of 2014, giving people immediate access to complete government spending data at the state level in an effort to increase transparency.
He has also invited local governments to participate in the same way at no cost and has since partnered with 271 different Ohio cities, villages, townships, school districts and more that have posted and shared their books through the site.
The site features a “Google-style” search for keywords, the ability to create live dynamic charts and comparison spending reports by year or agency. Since the launch, it has received more than 496,000 total searches to date.
Ottawa County is the Ohio’s 15th county to publish its spending data at OhioCheckbook.com. The City of Port Clinton, the Village of Marblehead, Catawba Island Township, Danbury Township and the Genoa Area Local School District also have checkbooks available on the site. Port Clinton City Schools is working to have its data online soon.
“I believe the people of Ottawa 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,” Mandel said. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”