By Andy Sevilla.
The state comptroller’s office presented Kyle and Hays County with its top honor in government finance transparency, as both local governments met and surpassed government website sunshine standards set by the state agency.
Kyle’s accolade is its fourth in as many years, though this time it was granted the highest designation ever presented – the Leadership Circle Platinum Star Award. Hays County also took that top honor.
“Every taxpayer has a right to know exactly how each dollar of their money is spent,” Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson said in a statement. “We list every check on our website as well as our entire budget on our website.”
Previously, the state comptroller issued transparency awards with the gold star marking its highest designation. That gold star recognized local governments setting the bar with their transparency efforts.
This year, however, the state introduced the Platinum Star Award, indicating a local government went “above and beyond” in providing for online financial transparency and met an even higher standard than the previous mark of excellence.
“It is not only a great achievement to receive the Platinum Star Award in its first year, but also our duty and commitment to the taxpayers to be accountable to them in how we manage their government,” Johnson said.
For the past three years, Kyle has been awarded the Leadership Circle Gold Star Award – the highest designation at the time. Hays County was presented with a gold star last year.
“We received the Gold Leadership Circle award last year and knew that when the Comptroller’s Office upped the ante this year by creating a higher level that we wanted to reach it,” Hays County Auditor Bill Herzog said in a statement. “Our staff came through.”
Included among the 22 requirements set for the new level of online transparency were online access to the approved budget, tax rates, annual financial reports and check register.
City officials touted transparency improvements over last year, which included making the information easier to find at www.cityofkyle.com.
Kyle has its city budget, check register and financial performance reports online, as well as previous years’ financial audits, contact information for elected officials and key staff, municipal codes and past council meeting agendas and minutes.
Kyle, however, still falls short in providing finance reports for elected officials and candidates for office on its website, though that is not a requirement for a Leadership Circle Award. The cities of Buda and San Marcos, as well as Hays CISD provide those records on their websites, though neither of those local governments received online transparency awards this year, according to the comptroller’s latest data.