Aiken praised for government transparency

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AIKEN --- South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and other state and local officials praised Aiken's recent efforts in government transparency on Wednesday and encouraged more cities to emulate Aiken.

"This is one step in many," said Mr. Eckstrom to a crowd along The Alley in downtown Aiken. "... And I'm so proud the city of Aiken has taken a leadership role in restoring trust in government."

Recently, Aiken has posted on a Web site financial statements, including check registers that show residents how city money is being spent.

Last year, Mr. Eckstrom had state spending information posted online and then launched a campaign to persuade local governments to post their expenditures on the Internet.

Aiken is among eight cities to have pushed through such an initiative. Mr. Eckstrom said he hopes more cities will follow the examples set by these eight.

Officials with the South Carolina Policy Council and several state legislators were in Aiken to support the campaign.

"This is a big step," said state Sen. Shane Massey, a Republican who represents the 25th District, including Aiken.

Some state lawmakers also used the event to seek public support of a House bill that would require a registered roll call on all votes by representatives.

Currently, only some votes require House members to register their choice using an electronic push-button system as opposed to a collective voice vote .

"It (the roll call bill) can happen if the public is behind it," said state Rep. Tom Young, R-Aiken, a co-sponsor of the bill.

A similar proposal also is in the Senate, Mr. Young said, adding that the House legislation is in committee and won't be readdressed until the next session.

Also at Wednesday's gathering, Mr. Eckstrom announced that Jim Holley, who has been serving as Aiken County attorney, is now the comptroller's new chief of staff.

Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young said Mr. Holley would be missed and that the county is in the process of finding a replacement.

Mr. Young also said the county is considering posting spending figures on its Web site as well.

VIEW AIKEN RECORDS ONLINE

To view Aiken's spending records online, go to www.cityofaikensc. gov/financial transparency.

Then click on the link at the bottom of the page.

Then click on the finance folder to access transparency documents, including audit reports, a comprehensive annual financial report, a chart of accounts, monthly financial statements and all accounts payable checks and electronic fund transfers.

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