Group wants local goverments to have websites

Mar 12, 2014

Brian Costin with Illinois Policy Action speaks about the Local Government Transparency Act with Republican candidate for Tazewell County Clerk, John Ackerman.
Credit Denise Molina / Peoria Public Radio
A state group says it will continue to push for legislation requiring local governments to be more transparent. This is the fourth year Illinois Policy Action has attempted to get the Local Government Transparency Act made law.

The proposal requires any local government with an annual budget of a million dollars or more to maintain a website and post various types of information. That includes budgets, audits, meetings notices and documents, debt disclosure and a searchable revenue and expenditure database.

Brian Costin is the Director of Government Reform with Illinois Policy Action. He says mandating comprehensive standards statewide allows residents to better hold local governments accountable.

“We think that this will be a tremendous asset to the state of Illinois and its taxpayers. It will give citizens the ability to participate in an educated manner with their local government. We also think it’s going to be the best corruption fighting tool that our state can offer at this time, in a state that really desperately needs this.”

Costin says the city of Peoria maintains an easy to navigate informative website while other area communities rank near the bottom for posting material online.

John Ackerman, the Republican candidate for Tazewell County Clerk, says he supports the Local Government Transparency Act. He says government transparency is an issue he’s worked on as part of the Tazewell County Board. He says he’ll continue that effort as the county’s clerk. 

“I have, in the past, objected to unfunded mandates. This could be labeled as one such one. The difference I see between others and this is that this is basic information, information that should already be accessible to the taxpayers that is not. This is information that will help the taxpayers hold their elected officials responsible for their actions.”

Ackerman’s encouraged Tazewell County to improve its website by having one of his own where he posted county information. Ackerman is running against incumbent Democrat Christie Webb in the general election.

The group, Illinois Policy Action, is continuing efforts to get the Local Government Transparency Act approved this year. It’s launching a website Thursday.