Clermont County to Make its Financial Data Available on OhioCheckbook.com

Accounting concept: pen, calculator and paperwork

BATAVIA, Ohio (June 17, 2015) – Financial data from Clermont County will appear later this year on the State Treasurer’s OhioCheckbook.com site. On June 15, Clermont County Commissioners approved the transfer of the data to the Treasurer.

OhioCheckbook.com was launched by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel in December 2014 to give citizens complete access to the state’s financials, which citizens can search, download, compare and analyze. Now, counties, cities and other jurisdictions across the state are piggybacking on OhioCheckbook.com, and will use the software to post their own revenue and spending information in a similar format. Clermont is the eighth Ohio county to partner with the Treasurer.

Clermont County Commissioners praised this commitment to transparency. “While our financial information has always been available to citizens, the OhioCheckbook.com website will make accessing that information much easier,” said BCC President Ed Humphrey. “This is the right thing to do.”

“It is a great idea,” said Commissioner Bob Proud. “I am pleased that we are taking this step; citizens and taxpayers should be able to find this information without jumping through a lot of hoops.”

Added Commissioner David Uible, “We are proud to be partnering with OhioCheckbook.com to make this information available and usable to our citizens.”

“I believe the people of Clermont County have a right to know how their tax money is being spent and I applaud local leaders here for partnering with the Treasurer’s office to post their finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” said Treasurer Mandel.  “My vision is to create an army of citizen watchdogs who are empowered to hold public officials accountable.”

Mandel has been praised by advocates for OhioCheckbook.com, including the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which moved Ohio to the top of its list in a ranking of states’ “transparency” websites, judged by easy access to financial information.

Once Clermont County’s information is on OhioCheckbook.com – with the url clermontcounty.ohiocheckbook.com — a link will also be posted on the county’s website, www.clermontcountyohio.gov.

OhioCheckbook.com is built on a platform developed by OpenGov, a company created in 2012 to help governments share financial data.


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Ohio’s Farmers Should be Growing Food, Not Fuel

Sixteen and counting. That’s 16 Republican presidential candidates in case you hadn’t been keeping track.

If that seems a bit ridiculous, you might be right, but one of the candidates – our Gov. John Kasich – is likely to influence the national dialogue in a way that will benefit Ohio by virtue of his experience here in the heartland of America.

Many of you know me as your Clermont County commissioner, while only a few of you may know that my family owns and operates Vista Grand Ranch, a bison farm that provides locally-raised buffalo to support healthy lifestyles right here in southwest Ohio and throughout the state. How we utilize our natural resources and farm our land is a critically important decision for us that will impact future generations. Interestingly, a federal mandate with good intentions – to reduce our fossil fuel consumption – is having unintended consequences that greatly impacts how we’re farming our land.

The Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, is a federal mandate that calls for an increasing amount of biofuels, mostly corn ethanol, to be blended into gasoline. The requirement causes farmers to switch fields to corn or plow over unplanted areas and prairies to grow more of it. To get the best yield on soils not ideal for the crop, they douse it with fertilizer, releasing excess phosphorus and nitrates into the environment, where they help native plants in rivers and lakes proliferate. We’re even seeing fertilizer run-off from corn acreage as a large contributor to the Gulf of Mexico’s annual dead zone, an area where there is too little oxygen for marine life.

In Toledo, a massive bloom in 2014 left more than half a million people in the city without drinking water. The Ohio Environmental Council declared, “A much better job needs to be done of managing the agricultural phosphorus that feeds the algal blooms.” They’re right. We do.

What’s more, one in six Ohio households reduces the number or quality of their meals because they cannot afford nutritious food, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, and we have a 13.9 percent food stamp participation rate in our state. Here’s an alarming fact that makes those numbers even more unsettling: a significant amount of corn grown in Ohio is being used to create ethanol, when it could be feeding these individuals and families in need. Repurposing the significant corn production in this state to be used as food instead of fuel can help to reduce these statistics.

There’s no question, it’s time to reform the RFS.

Gov. Kasich has denounced arbitrary mandates and government subsidies that would do harm to the livelihood of Ohio farmers. As a leader on the national stage, our Governor has a tremendous opportunity to speak against the RFS, represent the interests of the heartland and ensure this bad policy can do no additional harm to our quality of life.

Just last month, U.S, Rep. Brad Wenstrup announced he is cosponsoring HR 703 – the Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act. If enacted, the bill would repeal the RFS entirely.

It’s time for us to raise our voices. If we want to see real change in Ohio, we need to work together to fight for what is best for our state. Join me in protecting Ohio by visiting smarterfuelfuture.org to learn more and take action to help reform the ethanol mandate.

 

Written by David Uible

Published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, August 5, 2015


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