The Center for Local Governance’s new report, Improving Transparency and Accountability in Economic Development, calls attention to the need for greater government transparency in the economic development arena.

Currently, the Texas Open Meetings Act allows local governmental bodies to conduct closed door meetings on certain issues, such as economic development agreements. What this often means for communities is that they are left uninformed about the ins-and-outs of economic development negotiations and the rationale for extending taxpayer dollars to business prospects.

To help better educate the public on such agreements and their cost, the report calls for several local government reforms, including creating and maintaining a publicly available incentives policy; establishing a period for public review after closed session negotiations have concluded; and making all existing economic development agreements publicly available online.

Such reforms would go a long way to helping educate the public on how and why their taxpayer dollars are being spent to stimulate their local economy.