Columbus Dispatch: Path eased for local government to put finances online
The Columbus Dispatch
By Alan Johnson
August 19, 2016
A collaboration between Treasurer Josh Mandel and Auditor Dave Yost will make it easier for local governments to become part of the state's online checkbook.
Mandel and Yost announced Thursday the creation of a one-stop operation that allows local government officials to use their existing accounting network to submit reports to ohiocheckbook.com, the online financial database maintained by the treasurer's office.
There are 3,962 local governments, school districts and other entities in Ohio. So far, 776 have their finances online or are in the process of making them available, Mandel said. Cities, counties, townships, schools, library districts and other special districts are part of the mix.
"The real winner in this process is the taxpayers of Ohio," Mandel said at a Statehouse news conference. "We're transferring power from politicians to the people."
Yost said the Uniform Accounting Network, the financial management system used by about two-thirds of all local government entities in Ohio, will be linked to Mandel's state checkbook, enabling government officials to make a simple, voluntary decision to put their finances online.
"We are urging all the UAN clients to opt in," Yost said. "No cost, no muss, no fuss."
Among the participants is the Village of West Jefferson. Village fiscal officer Debbie Dileo said the checkbook "is a simple way for us to inform our residents about the use of their local tax dollars, and will now be even easier with the annual reporting mechanism."
Mandel began OhioCheckbook.com in 2014. It has $534 billion in spending over eight years and 147 million transactions. It operates at no cost to local government. However, Mandel's office paid $813,000 to set up the system, a one-time licensing fee of $975,000, and annual operating costs of about $600,000.