I believe that true transparency and government accountability will be achieved when every taxpayer in Maine can go online and see how government spends their hard earned tax dollars.
We’ve come along way towards true transparency at the state government level with MaineOpenGov.org (and there is MUCH more to come). We’ve done it with local school districts around the state. Now it’s time to take it to the next level – local government level.
In a series of posts on MaineFreedomForum.com over the coming weeks, you will see local government salary and spending information that has been gathered from various local municipalities across Maine. The information won’t all be standardized, like it is on MaineOpenGov.org, because towns don’t have a standard way they are required to keep their financial records.
Often times local governments have sloppy recording and reporting methods, and many have shown very little interest in cooperating with requests for public information. In the subsequent posts, you will see various forms of documents, depending on how the towns reported their information. There are PDF’s, spreadsheets, tables, and even some dot matrix printouts of city payrolls like the one in the picture above (That’s Bangor’s 2009 payroll unfurled in all it’s glory). You would think a big city like Bangor would keep that information in Excel wouldn’t you?
Some towns overcharge (they are supposed to only charge $10 an hour according to Maine’s Freedom of Access Law), some towns take months responding, while some others (a few at least) are happy to comply and do so to the letter of the law.
The goal is to one day, have every town in Maine put their salary and spending information online voluntarily. Until then, it’s our mission to gather all the public spending information we can, and get it online where taxpayers can see it and search it.
If you don’t see your town or city in one of the posts, we can fix that. Give me a shout.