Budget Transparency for Towns

HB 2221 Introduced by Rep. Gail Griffin (R-Sierra Vista)

A bill to that attempts to increase government transparency at the local level, it will require "town councils" to publish at regular intervals as well as prior to an biennial election what can be considered a financial statement.  That is a record of all monies received and their sources as well as expenditures and to what account those expenditures were made.

The exact language can be found at azleg.gov selecting Bill Info from the Bills menu.  Then finding HB 2221.  The entire text is below.




Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
2   Section 1. Section 9-246, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to
3   read:
4   9-246. Publication of financial statement; posting
5   requirement
6  The common council shall, at least ten days before the biennial
7  election, SHALL publish in a newspaper published in the town, or if there
8 is none, then SHALL post in three or more public places in the town, a
9 full and correct statement of all monies received into the treasury of the
10 town since the last report, and the sources from which they were severally
11 derived, and also of all disbursements and expenditures and the account
12  upon ON which the disbursement was made. THE STATEMENT SHALL BE POSTED ON

Commentary by Bob Karp

This proposed legislation received bipartisan agreement and for once I do agree with the intent and applaud Rep. Gail Griffin for her interest in this issue.  I am not an expert (yet) on Arizona Constitution legislative language so I may be off base here a bit.  Hopefully, someone will educate me on the use of the language "common council" in the proposed bill.

My questions:

  1. Does the bill only apply to towns and not cities?  Or more specifically is there a technical difference between a town and city or charter city versus non charter city for purposes of this legislation?
  2. Based on the answer above, why would any specific type local government of  be excluded from this requirement?
  3. Are counties excluded from this requirement?
  4. The bill seems to allow for any type or reporting as long as the source of monies and amounts and is shown and the amounts of expenditures and account charged is shown.  There is no standard for how that should be provided.
  5. Should there be a "generally accepted accounting principles" requirement added?
  6. Should the materials be formatted into something more easily understandable by the general public?

I do have concerns about the cost to provide this information and how much paperwork and staff time will be needed to do it.  Or will the cities just dump their raw financial statements out in the public.

The idea that local government is accountable for the funds it takes in and provides the information to the public is something I strongly support.

Now do the same thing for the state in some easy-to-understand format.


Posted in Ideas/Opinion, News.

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