The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 21, 2021 1:00 am

State government earns high transparency marks

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Indiana rated high in Truth in Accounting's annual financial transparency score report for the 50 states.

The group is a government finance watchdog organization, and its report focuses on “important-but-obscure annual financial reports” on file in statehouses across the country, a news release said. The report measures their contents against widely accepted best practices from the private sector.

This report is based on fiscal year 2020, which includes the onset of the pandemic and the most recent reports available for all 50 states.

Indiana scored an 82 out of 100 for financial transparency. Indiana is one of 22 states that earned distinction this year for providing the public with candid and transparent information about their government's fiscal health.

Utah had the highest score at 88, and Colorado was lowest at 46.

Overall, the 50 states' transparency scores worsened compared with previous years. Several states faced audit issues due to challenges with the CARES Act and unemployment insurance. Only 37 states' financial reports – including Indiana – received clean audit opinions, which is down 10 states from last year.

County's voice at City Council

The Allen County Council should be proud of the presence it had at Fort Wayne City Council's meeting, the County Council's attorney says.

No current County Council members were at the City Council meeting Tuesday, but a couple of former members were.

Mitch Harper on Thursday commended City Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, who is a former County Council member, for speaking up during a discussion of a potential acquisition of the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District by City Utilities. Tucker said Tuesday that City Utilities officials only presented the happy side of the story before sharing her concerns about representation on the sewer district board.

The City Council later voted to table the matter until the next meeting so that concerns about representation voiced by multiple council members can be addressed.

Harper, himself a former city councilman, also said the County Council was represented well by Joel Benz, who resigned from the council in October to take over as Three Rivers Ambulance Authority's executive director.

Benz was invited to the City Council meeting to share an update about how the ambulance authority is handling recruitment. The authority's board approved an emergency declaration this year after its contractor broke the contract with unreasonably slow response times.

Democratic speaker named

Former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota will keynote the Indiana Democratic Party's Holiday Party on Dec. 10.

Heitkamp will celebrate what Democrats have accomplished since Joe Biden was sworn in as president. From the American Rescue Plan to the Jobs Act, she will focus on how Democrats can deliver for Hoosier families and win at the ballot box in 2022.

Tickets for the sponsors' reception are $250; general reception tickets are $100.

The event will be at the Skyline Club in downtown Indianapolis.

Devan Filchak of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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