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The Official Blog of National Taxpayers Union

How Transparent is Your Local Government Website?

Posted by Kristina Rasmussen - August 25, 2008

Sunshine Review is working on the My Government Website Project for “people from all around the country to collaboratively determine the extent to which government-managed websites contain the information people need.”

Basically, they’re setting up a wiki-style Website that hosts user reviews of local government Websites. Think about it: every city, county, and school district in the country. Pretty cool.

As part of this project, Sunshine Review created a Transparency Checklist, which lists “features that, ideally, voters and regular citizens in any part of the United States will be able to find when they visit the websites of counties, cities, school districts, and state agencies.”

Here's the tax standard:
Taxes: The website should include the central location for all tax information, including state "fees" such as drivers' licenses; Tax documents for all elected officials and each agency discloses all sources of revenue.
I came across this Will County (IL) tax Website recently, and I was impressed with the extensive tax information provided by Will County Treasurer Pat McGuire. In particular, his letter to taxpayers on everything from assessments and rates to financial counseling and making your voice heard gives a nice “lay of the land.” An easy-to-use menu on the left hand side of the page provides a quick link to specific tax information.

By Sunshine Review’s standards, Will County would get good marks for providing a central location for all tax information.

Consider reviewing and rating your local government’s Website on transparency. You never know: A local bureaucrat might adopt your suggestions for improving the community’s government Website.

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