Hillsboro’s city auditor is participating in a new program designed to make the city’s annual financial transactions easily accessible by everyone online.
Lewis is participating in the OhioCheckbook.com program offered by the office of Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel. Hillsboro will be one of the first to go live online next Thursday, Sept. 24.
Lewis said Thursday that he became aware of the program last spring during a continuous training seminar. He was the first at that meeting to sign up, he said.
Lewis said Mayor Drew Hastings met recently with a state official who described the program to the mayor.
“Drew came in and told me this might be something I would be interested in,” said Lewis. “I told him I already signed up.”
Last year, 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. OhioCheckbook.com recently earned Ohio the number one ranking in the country for government transparency,” according to a state treasurer’s office press release.
In April, 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.”
Participation is voluntary, but Lewis said Thursday, “It’s important to our office to be transparent, and we’re excited to be part of it so taxpayers know where we spend our money.”
Lewis said he provided the state treasurer’s office with detailed revenue and expenditure transactions from 2012, 2013 and 2014, and will do so at the completion of each year going forward.
Bill Fawley, the Highland County auditor, said Thursday that he has discussed the project with state officials, but the county’s software is not currently compatible with the program.
“Our software would have to be updated,” said Fawley, adding that he would “like to do it someday.”
OhioCheckbook.com was launched on December 2, 2014 in regard to state government offices, “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 September 4, 2015 there have been more than 312,000 total searches on the site,” according to a press release.
OhioCheckbook.com displays more than $473 billion in state government spending over the past eight years, including more than 130 million transactions.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.