Richards bill promotes transparency

Published 4:04 pm Friday, February 24, 2017

Bowling Green Daily News

Across the commonwealth of Kentucky, there are literally hundreds of special-purpose taxing districts that, collectively, collect and spend millions of taxpayer dollars each year.
Then-State Auditor Adam Edelen performed a real public service to our state several years ago when he pointed out the lack of oversight and accountability of these districts. His efforts brought about needed reforms.
This is not to malign the majority of these districts, which are created to meet countywide or regional needs and are governed by boards of local citizens who are striving to address those particular needs.
That being said, all levels of government function and serve those who pay the tolls best when there is transparency.
Regretfully, a minority of these districts appear not to understand that and are sending the message that they are not interested in taxpayers knowing what they take in or how they spend it.
Current law requires districts to publish the location where financial statements and supporting financial data may be inspected by the public.
In one case we are aware of, a district in a nearby county made these reports available at a local restaurant for only two hours. In a second example, a district in another nearby county also made their financials available for only two hours.
While Joe’s Burger Emporium (not the real name) might be a great place to grab a sandwich and a shake, two hours of public exposure over a year doesn’t even come close to meeting the spirit of public disclosure requirements and rises to the level of a travesty.
To address this problem, state Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, introduced House Bill 116 to amend publication requirements for special-purpose governmental entities.
HB116 would require financial statements and supporting documents to be kept available for at least one year after the publication date.