Greenville County Goes Online with Spending

March 24, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveJan Williams
Citizen Reporter

Greenville County General Fund spending was posted on line for public viewing last week via the county’s main page at the lower left side under “Financial Online Accountability.”

The Special Revenue Fund will be added when officials can get some items in their process improved.

This is a direct transfer of information so there is no extra cost involved. That also means that it may be confusing to many who are not familiar with the terms used.

County Administrator Joe Kernell said this is the same way the state does its transfers. The method to review the information may seem cumbersome to some but it shows the data by month and agency, and corresponds to the budget terminology.

Kernell is concerned this system might create more questions than it answers, but he favors the transparency since spending is public, but not in this manner.

This is a good start and the county administrator has taken an excellent first step in the process.

This process began with a press conference last June in Greenville featuring Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom. State Reps. Dan Hamilton and Garry Smith attended to show their support for the effort, as did Greenville County Council members Sid Cates, Joe Dill, Willis Meadows and Liz Seman.

County Council Chairman Butch Kirven later appointed Meadows to advise the council on how to proceed by working with the Finance Committee and the county administrator.

There have been numerous presentations at county council meetings since June 2009 by citizens to begin the process of posting online.

The city of Greenville did not have anyone attend the event despite being invited. The city’s position is that they are open enough through their current process.

Greenville County should be congratulated for this new process of transparency and for the work Meadows and Kernell did to get it started. And while several council members were initially against this move because of concerns that it might cause confusion, they did not stop it from going forward.

Jan Williams is a former Navy supply corps officer and a retired automotive fabrics development engineer from Milliken and Co. who lives in Greenville.