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Halifax County gets ‘B’ for ease of budget info on-line

SoVaNow.com / January 07, 2013
Halifax County has earned a “B” grade in a new report by the Virginia Coalition for Open Government that attempts to answer the question: how accessible is local budget information on the Internet?

The Virginia Coalition report assigns grades to each of Virginia’s 134 localities and finds that only one, Fairfax County, earns an A+ for making it easy for the public to find budget information on-line. Nearly one in five localities received failing grades.

The evaluations are based on the number of clicks it takes to find the budget on a locality’s website and the completeness and accessibility of the information, along with more subjective scoring criteria such as how well the website is designed and whether the language is plain. Localities that use the word “budget,” for instance, score higher than localities that refer to a “fiscal plan,” even though the latter reference is technically accurate.

“It is our hope that localities and citizens will use this report as a platform from which to launch a discussion about how best to present the budget and other important public records,” wrote Virginia Coalition Executive Director Megan Rhyne in the forward to the report. “The more sunlight in the Commonwealth, the better.”

Halifax County placed in a group of 43 localities with B grades, including Pittsylvania (with a B+), Danville, Alexandria and Charlottesville. Only 18 localities received A’s, led by Fairfax. Another 35 localities received C’s, 12 got D’s and 26 received F’s for having very limited or no budget data available on their websites.

Among the localities receiving F’s were Mecklenburg and Lunenburg, neither of which posted any budget information on-line.

Among other localities in the area, Campbell and Brunswick counties earned C’s, Charlotte County a D, and the City of Lynchburg a C+.

Halifax County’s website can be found at http://www.halifaxcountyva.gov, including a link on the homepage for “budget.” The Virginia Coalition for Open Government can be found on the Internet at http://www.opengovva.org.





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