Transparency is key

Many taxpayers would love to have access to details — check by check — on how local officials are spending their money.

If you live in Jefferson County, congratulations — the information is at your fingertips, literally.

In 2014, the Ohio treasurer’s office launched an online program called OhioCheckbook.com. It enables Buckeye State residents to obtain details of local government financial transactions.

Jefferson County government has joined the program, it was announced last week. According to state Treasurer Robert Sprague, online records detail more than 25,000 financial transactions by county government just this year.

Those transactions accounted for more than $147.2 million in spending. So, it is clear that it is important for the public to have access to that information. It is, after all, the taxpayers’ money.

Using the program is simple. Just go to OhioCheckbook.com and follow the instructions.

A few East Ohio municipalities, townships, counties and school districts have signed up for the program — but many have not.

In fairness, it needs to be noted that participating requires some expenditure and some effort on local government officials’ part.

But in terms of real transparency, there is nothing like the initiative. There is no other easy way for an ordinary resident of the Buckeye State to access key financial information about government entities at any level so easily and conveniently. There also is no better way for elected officials and the employees of government entities to ensure that they are being above board and making information available to the people.

It allows the public to view each and every expenditure made by a local government entity — and to ask questions about it.

Other East Ohio officials should be looking into OhioCheckbook.com as a means of being accountable to taxpayers.

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