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Mandel announces launch of Huron County local government checkbooks

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Updated Jun 16, 2017 at 10:38 AM

WAKEMAN — Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced Monday the launch of the village of Wakeman, New London Township and Peru Township’s online checkbooks on OhioCheckbook.com.

In December 2014, Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com, which sets a new national standard for government transparency and for the first time in Ohio history puts all state spending information on the internet. The website recently earned Ohio the nNo. 1e government transparency ranking in the country for the second year in a row.

The Ohio treasurer’s office was joined at the announcement by Wakeman Fiscal Officer Trisha Summers, Mayor Chris Hipp and members of village council.

Wakeman is the second village in Huron County to post its spending on OhioCheckbook.com. New London Township and Peru Township are the first townships in Huron County to post their spending on OhioCheckbook.com.

In February, the city of Norwalk and Western Reserve Local Schools opened their online checkbooks. They joined join several others from Huron County on the Open Checkbook website: Willard city, Monroeville Local Schools, Norwalk City Schools and the village of North Fairfield.

“Edison (Local Schools) is committed, but is not live yet,” said Jeff Heinrich, a spokesman for Mandel’s office, in February.

The following is a breakdown of the newest local government sites:

• Wakeman’s online checkbook includes more than 11,000 individual transactions that represent more than $3.5 million of total spending over the past four years.

• New London Township’s online checkbook includes 1,000-plus individual transactions that represent more than $640,000 of total spending over the past three years.

• Peru Township’s online checkbook includes more than 800 individual transactions that represent more than $706,000 of total spending over the past three years.

“I believe the people of Huron 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 in a prepared statement. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”

On April 7, Mandel sent a letter to 18,062 local government and school officials representing 3,962 local governments throughout the state calling on them to place their checkbook level data on OhioCheckbook.com and extending an invitation to partner with his office at no cost to local governments. These local governments include cities, counties, townships, schools, library districts and other special districts.

A large coalition of statewide and local government organizations have expressed support for OhioCheckbook.com and local government transparency, including: Ohio Municipal League, Ohio Township Association, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, County Commissioner Association of Ohio, County Auditor Association of Ohio, Ohio Newspaper Association, Ohio Society of CPAs, Buckeye Institute and Common Cause Ohio.

OhioCheckbook.com was launched Dec. 2, 2014, marking the first time in Ohio history when citizens could actually see every expenditure in state government. Since its launch, OhioCheckbook.com has received overwhelming support from newspapers and groups across the state and, as of June 6, there have been more than 775,000 total searches on the site.

OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $598 billion in spending over the past nine years, including more than 164 million transactions. The website includes cutting-edge features such as:

• “Google-style” contextual search capabilities, to allow 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; and,

• Capability to share charts or checks with social media networks and direct contact for agency fiscal offices.

In March 2015, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released their annual “Following the Money 2015” report and Mandel earned Ohio the No. 1 transparency ranking in the country for providing online access to government spending data.

Ohio was featured prominently in the report after climbing from 46th to first in spending transparency as a result of the treasurer’s release of OhioCheckbook.com. Due to the launch, Ohio received a perfect score of 100 points this year – the highest score in the history of the U.S. PIRG transparency rankings.

In April, U.S. PIRG announced Mandel earned Ohio the number one government transparency ranking in the country for the second consecutive year in a row. Ohio again received the highest perfect score of 100 points this year – marking the second time in two years Ohio received the highest possible score in the history of the U.S. PIRG transparency rankings.

The treasurer’s office is partnering with OpenGov, a leading Silicon Valley government technology company, to provide residents of Ohio the ability to view and search local government expenditures in a user-friendly, digital format.

“Ohio is setting the standard for financial transparency on an unprecedented scale. We are excited to partner with the Treasurer’s office to bring world-class technology to communities large and small across the state,” said Zachary Bookman, CEO of OpenGov, in a prepared statement.

For more information or to view your local government website, visit the “local government” option on OhioCheckbook.com or click on:

WakemanVillageHuron.OhioCheckbook.com;

NewLondonTownshipHuron.OhioCheckbook.com;

PeruTownshipHuron.OhioCheckbook.com.

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