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Mecklenburg County budget info remains off-line

SoVaNow.com / January 09, 2013
Mecklenburg County has earned an “F” in a new report by the Virginia Coalition for Open Government (VCOG) that attempts to answer the question: how accessible is local budget information on the Internet?

The Virginia Coalition issued a report this week that assigns grades to each of Virginia’s 134 localities for providing easy-to-find budget information on-line. The Coalition determined that only one locality, Fairfax County, merited an A+ grade. Mecklenburg County was among the nearly 20% of localities that received failing grades.

In response to the report, Mecklenburg County Administrator Wayne Carter noted that the county is making improvements despite limited resources. “We just finished setting up the county’s first comprehensive web page. We’ve already discussed and are planning to add, the budget, and agendas and approved minutes from Board of Supervisor meetings,” said Carter this week.

He added, “We’re a small county and don’t have staff dedicated to maintaining and updating our website like some of the larger counties.”

Carter also explained that Mecklenburg County’s budget is always available at the County Administration office for the public to view. If someone wants a copy of just a few pages, Mecklenburg County, at least during Carter’s tenure, has provided them without cost. If a person wants the complete budget document, they would have to pay for the copying.

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.”

VCOG said the reason it searched for budget information from each locality is because “the budget is the most literal way government can be held accountable. The budget’s numbers tell us what the government’s priorities are. The numbers by themselves don’t have spin. It is up to citizens to decide if the money is being spent appropriately, in the right amounts and for the things we value.”

Mecklenburg County placed in a group of 26 localities with F grades, including Lunenburg, Greensville, and Nottoway Counties, and the city of Emporia. Nearby Halifax County scored a B, while Charlotte and Brunswick Counties scored a D and a C, respectively.

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government can be found on the Internet at http://www.opengovva.org.

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Who are they trying to kid? Not enough manpower is a lame excuse, it only takes 2 seconds to upload a PDF file to a website. They have never wanted to operate from a position of clarity and full disclosure, and even with the advent of technology they are still trying to evade the issue. Poor management,,,top to bottom,,,


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