Increased transparency

Published 5:53 pm Thursday, June 29, 2017

We commend supervisors in Prince Edward County for agreeing by consensus to make their submitted travel reimbursements part of the monthly meeting board packets — a signal of increased government transparency by the county.

For years, we’ve said the more open government is, the better it can serve the voters and taxpayers that those elected and appointed represent.

As County Administrator Wade Bartlett pointed out to us, the mileage records submitted by supervisors have always been available to the public via the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, meaning if a resident wanted to see copies of them, all they’d have to do is essentially request them through the county administrator’s office.

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There are many documents that are open to public inspection under the open records law, including public contracts, the salaries of county employees, the county administrator’s contract and committee meeting agendas, but the voluntary inclusion of the mileage records to the standing document that supervisors and many members of the public opt to receive monthly prior to each meeting of the board of supervisors makes the records much more accessible.

Greater accessibility results in greater accountability for voters and taxpayers to hold their elected officials to.

The discussion regarding mileage reimbursements led to our June 23 investigative piece that showed supervisors have been reimbursed between $40 and $1,733 over a nine-month period for county-related mileage submitted for reimbursement.

Farmville 801 District Pattie Cooper-Jones initiated the discussion during the board’s June meeting, noting that a step in making the records more accessible could prevent abuses of the reimbursement that board members receive for tracking their traveled miles.

We thank Cooper-Jones for initiating this matter, which is leading to increased transparency for the board.