The Union County Auditor’s Office is working to create fiscal transparency.
Yesterday, County Auditor Andrea Weaver opened the Union County Open Finance webpage.
She said the site is “part of our commitment to improving transparency by providing a guided view through complex financial information.”
“This is the public’s money and we need to be transparent with it,” Weaver said. “This is an easy way for us to manage that.”
She added, “This site provides a transparent look at the types of revenue we collect and how we allocate those public funds.”
Weaver said that several years ago, then-state auditor Josh Mandel pushed local governments to make their finances available online. He created the Ohio Online Checkbook platform for local governments to use. Weaver said she understood the value of the system but was short handed in her office.
“It just wasn’t a priority for me to assign resources for that,” Weaver said.
Last year, Weaver said staffing challenges were resolved and she felt it was time to revisit the idea of a transparency website.
She said the delay, “kind of worked out for us.”
The auditor explained that Tyler Technologies, the company that creates and maintains the financial software used by Union County, developed its own platform for making finances within the system available online. She said the Tyler system, which was a $12,000 add on to the financial software, is easier and more efficient for both the public and her office.
“We like it better,” Weaver said. “It is so easy for the user. It is very simple and very intuitive.”
She said the information is presented in a variety of user friendly ways.
“If you are numbers driven, you can get information that way. It also has a lot of graphic representation so if you are a visual learner, you can get information that way.”
She said the system can provide summaries of information, but also allows users to “go as deep as they want.”
The system is also more convenient for staff in the auditor’s office.
Weaver explained that with the Online Checkbook, information must be manually updated. She said it takes time to upload the initial information and to make new information available. Many local governments created Online Checkbook accounts, but eventually stopped updating them.
“With this, I don’t need to have a person dedicated to this system,” Weaver said.
She said the online system works seamlessly with the financial software and since the information is already in there, it automatically uploads to the website.
“It doesn’t create any extra work for us,” Weaver said.
Weaver said the site will be updated every Friday morning and the amounts for the current fiscal year are as of the previous week. The amounts reported for the prior four fiscal years are for the entire fiscal year.
The site is available on the Auditor’s Office page at the Union County Website.
“People will still be able to call in or email or stop in or write a letter if they have a question or want to make a public records request and we will still honor that as quickly as we can,” Weaver said. “This just gives residents another option to get all of that information without needing to submit an actual public records request and to get the information on their time schedule.”
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