State auditor promotes online portal

August 24, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Cabell County may soon be the latest to participate in a newly launched online portal created to publicly track revenue and expenditures of state and county governments in real time.

West Virginia State Auditor J.B. McCuskey personally pitched the site to the Cabell County Commission on Thursday morning during its regular meeting at the Cabell County Courthouse.

The site, www.wvcheckbook.gov, is powered through Open-Gov, allowing citizens the same access to records as government offices in Charleston. It features user-friendly searches through 600 million lines of data and breaking down finances in easy-to-understand graphics.

The site can track down even the smallest and obscure individual expenditures. McCuskey demonstrated the site for the commission by taking a random search for “Victoria’s Secret,” which showed $100 had been spent by the West Virginia Supreme Court — turning out to be two $50 gift cards for drug court graduates.

Purchases are tracked in near real time, usually 24 hours behind, as West Virginia is moving to become the first all-digital-payment state government, McCuskey said. This process would provide information normally released through a FOIA request much more quickly.

“The enemy of any democracy is an uneducated citizenry,” McCuskey previously said in a statement. “Through our transparency website, every taxpayer in our state should know how their money is being spent on the municipal, county and state level.”

McCuskey said Cabell County was his 39th different commission meeting stop in three months promoting the new site

to counties, which would pay for and control their own website content.

Commission President Bob Bailey voiced his support for Cabell County joining the site, adding the full commission would likely be on board.

“The taxpayers have got a right to know where we’re spending our money,” Bailey said.

The website service is valued at $250,000, but McCuskey said it would cost Cabell County a few thousand dollars per year. In June, McCuskey told the Wayne County Commission the service would cost the county $3,000 for the first year, with the rate decreasing to $1,800 for each subsequent year.

The WV Checkbook site is active for the public to see state expenditures for free at www.wvcheckbook.gov.

HD Media reporter Luke Creasy contributed to this report.