A local state lawmaker has filed legislation that would require cities to release a financial audit every year in a bid to increase government transparency at the local level.
Rep. Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth) announced Monday on Twitter that he had “filed the City Audit Act (HB1829), which will bring more accountability and transparency to government spending by publishing municipalities’ full financial audit.”
“We have seen many instances across the state where there is too little accountability for cities in how they spend taxpayer dollars,” Schatzline told The Dallas Express. “This bill would give the people of Texas the tools to hold their local government accountable for tax dollars spent and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.”
The bill stipulates that “the governing body of a municipality shall prepare an annual financial statement showing” the total receipts, total disbursements, and closing balance “for each fund subject to the authority of the governing body during the municipality’s fiscal year.”
Receipts and disbursements would be itemized respectively by “source of revenue” and “nature of expenditure.”
Once the audits are completed, the Texas comptroller would be required to publish them in a searchable online database.
Tim Hardin, the president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, explained to The Dallas Express that he supports the bill, “because it provides further transparency to city budgets and should be regarded as non-controversial (a pretty common sense reform).”
“This, however, does not even begin to scratch the surface of reforms needed in our out-of-control local governments,” he continued. “Texas is in the top 5 of highest debts in the nation. This is mainly due to the lack of budgetary restraint and a corrupt property tax system that has been abused for decades.”
Hardin contended that Schatzline’s bill “is a necessary reform in order to bring local governments under control, and provide much-needed property tax relief for all Texans.”
“We support any reforms that will provide transparency to taxpayers, and ultimately move the ball toward the elimination of property taxes,” Hardin concluded.
As noted by The Texas Tribune, Texas’ local governments are very reliant on property taxes; these local tax dollars are often used to pay first responders’ salaries and fund their roads, parks, libraries, and public schools.
Schatzline’s bill follows shortly after a survey conducted by The Dallas Express suggested that a majority of Dallas residents desired greater transparency from the municipal government.
Over 53% of respondents indicated that they supported measures that would help citizens have a better picture of what happens in the City of Dallas. Out of all political demographics, only one group, those who self-identified as “far left,” did not desire greater transparency by a substantial margin.
Scott Greytak, director of advocacy for Transparency International U.S., explained to The Dallas Express, “When government isn’t open and transparent, the legitimacy and credibility of its decisions naturally come into question.”
“Transparency and accountability ensures that the public can trust that government is making decisions with their best interests at heart,” he concluded.
The Dallas Express reached out to Clifford Sparks, Dallas’ state legislative director, for comment about Rep. Schatzline’s bill but did not receive a response prior to publication.
“Out of all political demographics, only one group, those who self-identified as “far left,” did not desire greater transparency by a substantial margin.”
Well of course they didn’t. Why? Because they have something to hide.
So governments have been spending the people’s money haphazardly forever. Who would have guessed
Let’s add all governmental entities to this. School districts as well. I especially want to see administrative staff listings with salaries.
There is no transparency in that regard.
As it should be. All Corporations should have annual audits.
Transparency and accountability.
Dallas City Hall seems to be moving in the opposite direction, despite what they say.
We need more legislation like this. Expose the corruption at its source.
I hope they mean third party audit, preferably done by one of the Big accounting firms.
Auditing themselves is ripe for corruption