Xenia Gazette: Xenia checkbook going online
By Scott Halasz
May 26, 2016
XENIA — City of Xenia finances became a little more transparent Wednesday when officials agreed to place expenditures online.
As part of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s transparency program, Xenia joined more than 700 other Ohio cities, counties and public universities in committing to post checkbook-level expense on OhioCheckbook.com.
“I believe the people of Greene 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 their finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” Mandel said in a release. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”
OhioCheckbook.com is a search-based website that shares state spending. It shows what checks were written, to whom and for how much. It displays more than $517 billion in spending over the last eight years and has charts and graphs along with downloadable information.
“The hope is that government will operate more efficiently,” said Mandel’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs Dan Risko. “Rather than going to a conference in Hawaii, you’ll go to the one down the road in Cincinnati.”
Xenia’s online checkbook includes more than 213,000 individual transactions, representing more than $209 million in total spending during the past five years.
“It is the mission of the city of Xenia to provide exemplary municipal services through responsible stewardship of community assets, and the promotion of economic, environmental, and social vitality,” said Finance Director Mark Bazelak. “The implementation of OhioCheckbook.com gives us the transparency needed for our citizens and businesses to hold us accountable on our financial stewardship of city assets.”
City Manager Brent Merriman said accountability is a community expectation and is not a new goal for the city.
“We’re very excited to have a platform like this,” he said.
Spring Valley also went live on OhioCheckbook.com Wednesday. It’s online checkbook includes more than 2,500 transactions representing more than $1.3 million of total spending during the past three years.
“As the new mayor of the Village of Spring Valley, I really wanted to bring the village into the 21st Century,” said Mayor Doug Walters. “Adopting the checkbook website is an important step in reflecting our commitment to implement these essential technological advances.”
Launched Dec. 2, 2014, OhioCheckbook.com has had more than 542,000 searches as of May 23 and features “Google-style” contextual search capabilities and the ability to compare spending year-over-year.
“Providing transparency is necessary at all levels of government, as this promotes accountability, while providing essential government information to our citizens,” said State Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London). “Thus, I am thrilled that Spring Valley and Xenia have decided to join Treasurer Mandel’s online checkbook.”