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Eagle city council makes Idaho history with transparency resolution

Eagle city council makes Idaho history with transparency resolution

Wayne Hoffman
January 24, 2009

I have to give some kudos to the Eagle City Council. On Tuesday, the council became the first in the state to adopt a resolution supporting transparency in government.

For the first time in the state of Idaho, a local government has decided to put its cards on the table and give taxpayers the opportunity for close, routine monitoring of city expenditures and business dealings. It is our hope that all levels of government will create similar websites that empower Idahoans and boost transparency and accountability in government.

The transparency website is not the best in the world; it lacks searchability and database features. But here it is, and it is better than what you find anywhere else in Idaho at the moment.

The resolution requires the city to keep updated and detailed records of city revenues, expenditures, leases, grants and contracts on the Eagle city website. The information is already public under the state’s public records law, but often Idahoans have to file written requests for the information or jump through hoops to get it.

Across the county, all levels of government are passing laws, resolutions and ordinances requiring detailed levels of scrutiny on city expenditures, many utilizing database software to make every transaction available and searchable.

I have one small observation from the meeting: There seemed to be some hesitation regarding providing information on city employee pay. This is significant. As much as 80 percent of a city's budget is wages, and often the place where public oversight is needed is in salaries. How much does the city clerk make?

How much does the city engineer make? Did employee X recently get a raise, and is that raise in line with what one could expect to make in the marketplace? These are worthy questions. I don't know that this was resolved by the resolution which passed. But for now, the action is a victory.

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