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Macedonia joins online checkbook

Residents can review financial information updated monthly

By Briana Barker Reporter Published: May 3, 2017 12:00 AM
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MACEDONIA -- Residents can now view the city's finances on Ohiocheckbook.com.

Macedonia is the seventh city in Summit County to post its spending on OhioCheckbook.com, according to a press release from the state treasurer's office. Macedonia's online checkbook includes over 3,500 individual transactions that represent more than $6.3 million of total spending over Fiscal Year 2017.

"The city of Macedonia is excited to join OhioCheckbook.com and begin publishing our expenses online," said Macedonia Finance Director Rhonda Hall. "We hope our residents will use this interactive tool to see how their tax money is being spent."

She said one downfall to the system is city employees' pay is displayed online for all to see, and "not everyone likes that."

Hall said she plans to upload monthly to the website and the information is out there for everyone to see.

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In December 2014, Treasurer Josh Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com, to set a new national standard for government transparency and for the first time in Ohio history, puts all state spending information on the internet.

During the past two Council meetings, Hall had been asked why the city had not placed its finances online as Council voted to do last year. Hall told the News Leader in March she had been busy preparing the city's 2017 budget and closing the 2016 books but it was on her list of things to do.

Residents had begun requesting the checkbook as well as Councilor David Engle, who had said he felt placing the city's finances online would be a good move prior to the May 2 vote on Issue 3, an income tax issue for the city. The measure is a 0.5 percent income tax for general improvements, capital improvements, maintenance, current operating expenses, road improvements, and the city parks and recreation center, according to the ballot language.

Sagamore Hills was one of the first townships in the county to join the checkbook, according to a March 8 press release by Treasurer Josh Mandel's office. The township's transactions posted date back to 2013.

Sagamore Hills Fiscal Officer Scott Gale said the township will only upload once a year because unlike the city, he is a one-man department.

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"Every month I do post all the expenditures of the township up on the township board, and present them to the township every month for approval," he said. "We are a township -- we are going to do it once a year and of course the books are always available for inspection ... we feel like we are doing a really good job of keeping the public informed on the record keeping."

Gale said he believes the Ohio Checkbook is a good tool for transparency but there are some glitches in the system that need to be worked out.

"I would tell people don't look at it and make an assumption," Gale said of the website. He explained information does not always appear as it is. He said if a check is cut for a total amount but is drawn from separate accounts, it breaks the amounts down. "Sometimes you don't see the whole picture because multiple accounts are being used and it's literally $0.98 out of this account, $1.36 out of this account but in total the check may be for $20."

Hall said she has also noted the same bug, but said people can search by check if they want to see the total cost of something.

"It's a good tool if people learn how to use it," he said. "It's new so there are some bugs to work out but that's not odd. I think it's a great thing ... I can even look online at other townships to see who they are using for various projects and how much they are paying."

Residents can view transactions by going to local.ohiocheckbook.com and searching for Macedonia or Sagamore Hills.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432

bbarker@recordpub.com


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