Local school districts, governments to put spending info online

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced new partnerships with several local governments and school districts that have agreed to put their spending information on OhioCheckbook.com.
FILE - Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Momentum continues to grow for financial transparency across the state of Ohio.

On Wednesday, State Treasurer Josh Mandel announced a new partnership with two local school districts and several local governments. They have agreed to put their spending information online through OhioCheckbook.com.

Mandel unveiled the website last year, marking the first time in Ohio history that all state spending information could be accessed via the Internet. Since then, the latest local schools to put their information on the website include Youngstown City Schools and Mathews Local Schools. Local governments now participating are Austintown, Howland, Liberty, Milton and Bazetta townships.

Mandel was joined at Wednesday’s announcement by Youngstown City Schools Treasurer James Reinhard, Austintown Township Trustee Laura Wolfe and Milton Township Trustees Russ Weimer and Dave Tomaino.

In Mahoning County, Youngstown City Schools is the second school district to partner with OhioCheckbook.com, and Austintown and Milton townships are the fifth and sixth townships to post their spending online.

In Trumbull County, Mathews Local Schools is the second school district to join the partnership, and Howland, Liberty and Bazetta townships are the first townships to join.

“They’re volunteering to put their finances online. They’re voluntarily saying, ‘Yes, that taxpayers have a right to see how their money is being spent. Yes, our constituents have a right to know how their money is being spent. Yes, the teachers, the staff, the students have a right to know how their money is being spent.’ And I think they should be applauded for doing that,” Mandel said.

Youngstown City Schools Treasurer James Reinhard said the decision was an easy one for the school district.

“The Youngstown City Schools are proud to be a part of this project,” he said. “We agree with Treasurer Mandel that transparency is very important for public entities. We also think that the software will provide some additional internal uses to our administrative staff, in terms of reporting and information sharing.”

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 data on the website at no cost. Since its launch in December of 2014, there have been more than 396,000 searches on the site, Mandel said.

OhioCheckbook.com recently earned the state the number-one ranking in the country for government transparency.

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