Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, left, speaks to city officials Friday morning at an event to announce Marysville’s entry into the state’s ohiocheckbook.com program. Also pictured are Marysville Finance Director Justin Nahvi, center, and Marysville City Councilman Henk Berbee. The program allows local governments to put their finances in one place for taxpayers to access.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Will Channell)
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel joined city officials Friday morning in the council chambers to announce Marysville’s entry into the state’s ohiocheckbook.com program.
“Fifteen years ago, in order to go to the bank, you had to (physically) go to the bank… today, in order to go to the bank, you go on your iPhone in your kitchen or your computer,” Mandel said. “We said, ‘well, why not do the same thing with public records.’”
The State of Ohio started the site in 2014. Mandel said the idea was to provide an easy way for citizens to access their locality’s finances. The site serves as an optional database where taxpayers can easily search for their local government’s spending habits.
For those interested in looking at the city’s finances, there is a section of the Ohio Treasurer’s website called “Transparency.” From there, click the link labeled “ohiocheckbook.com.”
Citizens can then go to the Local Governments and Schools section and search for Marysville.
While Marysville is the first city in Union County to use the site, it isn’t the first local government to do so. Plain City, Jerome Township and Magnetic Springs all use the site to post their finances.
“Our hope is that, by Marysville putting their finances online today, they will inspire other local governments, cities, villages and townships throughout Union County,” Mandel said. “This isn’t only about Marysville, this isn’t only about Union County.”
There are 1,219 municipalities and school districts in Ohio that are members of ohiocheckbook.com.
“This is really becoming a movement,” Mandel said. “It’s a movement to empower taxpayers to hold their elected officials accountable.”
While the program allows entities to post information once they’ve been accepted into it, there’s nothing that requires they do. In an interview with the Journal-Tribune, Mandi Merritt, press secretary for Mandel’s office, said the program is a “voluntary partnership.”
“It’s up to the local government to decide how often they post that information,” she said. “People who update it maybe quarterly or monthly, that’s great, that’s the tip of the spear. But it is up to the local government. There is no requirement.
Nahvi told the Journal-Tribune his intention to update checkbook.com every January, after they close the previous year’s finances.
“That’s my intent, to keep rolling,” he said.
Marysville finance director Justin Nahvi has experience using the checkbook.com program, as he entered finances when he served as the Upper Arlington Public Library’s finance director. He said he hopes to eventually be able to post the city’s finances from a few years ago, but since the city recently switched accounting programs, it’s hard to consolidate that data.
Mandel singled out Nahvi as being instrumental in the city’s adoption of the site. During his remarks at the event, Mayor J.R. Rausch said Nahvi and Finance Committee Chair Henk Berbee had brought the idea to the city earlier this year. They said, since Marysville “are very good stewards of the money we are entrusted with,” they could “make sure the public understands that.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to show the citizens of Marysville that we really do believe we’re being good stewards,” Rausch said.
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