AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation congratulates Collin County Judge Keith Self and his colleagues on the commissioners court for their successful launch last Friday of the Collin County Financial Transparency Project.
“While many cities and counties have their adopted budgets online, it’s refreshing to see Collin County take the initiative to become the first county in America to open its financial data to the taxpayers,” said Talmadge Heflin, Director of the Foundation’s Center for Fiscal Policy. “By creating this level of transparency, Collin County is forging a true partnership with its citizens.”
The Collin County Financial Transparency Project includes a listing of checks written by county government for all of its operations since October 2007, the beginning of the current fiscal year. Checks that involve protected privacy information about employees or private citizens receiving county services will be excluded from the register.
The project also includes the county’s financial trends for the last five fiscal years; graphs of year-to-date total revenues, tax revenues, cash, and investments for county operations; a newsletter highlighting county government financial operations and projects; and monthly utility costs and consumption for county facilities.
“This adds an important, new dimension to open government for our citizens,” Self said. “Providing our taxpayers with up-to-date, easily understandable information not only brings accountability, but goes a long way to ensuring public trust in how we spend their tax dollars for local services.”
“Collin County has shown the path forward to more accessible and accountable county government,” Heflin continued. “We call on the other 253 Texas counties to follow their lead and open their own financial books to the public.”
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a champion of spending transparency at all levels of government. Its research provided the impetus for last year’s House Bill 3430, which created the Comptroller’s “Where the Money Goes” website. The Foundation has encouraged Texas school districts to post their check registers online, and worked closely with Collin County’s leadership as they developed their initiative.
Links to the Collin County Financial Transparency Project have been added to the Collin County page on TexasBudgetSource.com, a website the Foundation launched last month as the comprehensive resource for information on state and local government budgets and spending.
About the Texas Public Policy Foundation: TPPF is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.
About Talmadge Heflin: Mr. Heflin is the Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He served 11 terms in the Texas House of Representatives, and is a former Chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee.
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