CCS To Open Books With Online Access To Spending Records
Starting next month, people interested in tracking Columbus City Schools’ spending will have two new tools to follow taxpayer dollars. Alison Holm has more.
Treasurer Stan Bahorek unveiled the latest phase of the district’s ongoing transparency project Tuesday night with not one, but two online programs that give will give the public the ability to see where the district’s $1.3 billion operations budget goes.
“Let’s say they drill into the purchased services area; let’s say: utilities. You could look at electric, go in and see how much electricity costs for those buildings and the various payments associated with it. Or textbook purchases; you could drill down in and see the textbook purchases that have been made.”
The first program, Tyler Citizen Transparency, builds on the existing contract with Tyler Technology, which provides the software for the district’s accounting, payroll, purchasing, inventory, and human resources information. Bahorek says beginning July 1rst, people will be able to go online and easily find four years worth of spending information.
“We had somebody want a copy of all of our checks for fiscal 2015. Well, we can point them right there and say every payment for ’15 is right there. So we don’t have to dig them up, we don’t have to print them, we don’t have to charge them a fee for printing them… They can download the data into an Excel file, and sort and cross-tab it all you want.”
The Tyler program will cost the district $17-thousand annually, as well as a $4-thousand set-up fee, and will be updated weekly. The free OpenGov program offered by the state treasurer’s office which will also go live July 1rst, will be updated annually and will be somewhat more cumbersome. But Bahorek says it has the advantage of giving users an apples-to-apples comparison with other participating districts.
The unprecedented access to the district’s books comes as Columbus City Schools is poised to go before the voters with a tax levy request. Bahorek says that’s a happy coincidence, the project has been on his agenda since he became treasurer two years ago.