Maricopa County ‘Opens Books;' launches transparency website - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Maricopa County ‘Opens Books;' launches transparency website

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Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 4:00 pm

With a single click of a mouse, Valley residents can see a breakdown of Maricopa County government spending, revenues, tax bills, bond ratings and other key information with today's launch of the county's "OpenBooks" transparency site.

The site, produced in-house by county staff - and not outside consultants or web developers - is online at http://www.maricopa.gov/openbooks.

Information available on Maricopa OpenBooks includes financial reports, budgets, audits, strategic plans and results-based reporting.

In addition, the site includes a detailed explanation of property tax bills and links to allow homeowners to look up their assessed valuations and other specific information.

The initial version includes information on the county's bond rating (AAA) because of the national attention on the federal government's bond rating downgrade earlier this year by Moody's.

The home page includes a contact e-mail address, openbooks@mail.maricopa.gov, for suggestions and questions from users, according to Shelby Scharbach, the county's chief financial officer who headed the county task force that created OpenBooks.

Maricopa County is the first county in Arizona to have a specific website dedicated to transparency and linked to the state website.

The county's version is designed both to link and conform to the "Arizona Open Books" website, which has been given high ratings by both PIRG ( Public Interest Research Group) and Sunshine Review, a nonprofit that collaborates with individuals and organizations across America to promote state and local transparency.

The second phase of the site will include a searchable database of detailed revenue and expenditures. Maricopa County will partner with the state of Arizona to provide this data through the state's transparency site.

Through this partnership, taxpayers will be able to access revenue and expenditure information from the two largest governmental agencies in Arizona from one site.

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