Online database monitors local government finances

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The State of Illinois has launched an online database aimed at letting residents see and review the financial information of the state’s local governments as a way to encourage taxing bodies to behave responsibly.

The custom online database, named The Warehouse, contains information collected from about 5,200 municipalities, counties and special taxing districts located throughout the state and assembled by the Illinois Comptroller’s Office, according to the Chicago Tribune. The information has long been available to the public on paper records, but the online database application is designed to make it easier for residents to access the data.

Online database creates transparency

“There is no reason that residents should have to file Freedom of Information requests or sort through mountains of paper to see how their money is being spent,” Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said. “That information should be at their fingertips, and that’s what The Warehouse accomplishes.”

Website users can choose to search for records by report time, government body or by community. After selecting a local government, visitors are then sent to a landing page where they can see a summary of local finances, as well as annual financial reports and audits. One feature of the online database lets users compare data between different local governments to see how their revenue is spent.

The custom online database is part of Topinka’s push to increase government transparency at the state and local levels. Last year she launched a similar online database, called The Ledger, which lets users see state financial information ranging from daily receipts to agency budgets.