Vote on Urbana Web-posting resolution to be close

Vote on Urbana Web-posting resolution to be close

URBANA – A resolution stating the city's intention to post a number of budget and finance documents on the Internet is coming up for a vote Monday night, and it's likely to be close.

The resolution is being put forward by Alderman Charlie Smyth, D-Ward 1, but it's drawing the opposition of Mayor Laurel Prussing, who said that the city already posts the documents listed in the resolution and that she doesn't see the point.

The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

Prussing said she thinks the county Libertarian Party, chaired by Urbana resident Dianna Visek, is using the issue to make the city look bad when it already posts more documents than other local governments.

Visek has been urging the city, and a number of other local governments, for months to be more transparent with its financial dealings and to post documents on the Internet.

"That lady from the Libertarian Party says we need to pass a resolution, even though we've been doing it (posting documents on the Web) for months and years," Prussing said. "She's trying to give the impression somehow we don't have transparent government, and it's up to her to fix it.

"We're perfectly happy to do it and then she comes back and wants us to have an ordinance," the mayor said. "Actions speak louder than words. We're already doing it."

Visek said that Urbana is indeed leading the way locally in posting such documents on the Internet.

"I am not picking on Urbana in any way," she said. "I am thrilled they are taking the lead on this.

"She (Prussing) seems to think I'm doing this for some political gain," she added. "I'm not running for the city council."

Visek said that she has worked with Urbana Comptroller Ron Eldridge and that he has been wonderfully cooperative. But she said that a resolution would codify what documents should be posted, in case a new comptroller or mayor is more secretive.

Documents the resolution calls for posting include the annual budget; the "detailed trial," which lists the date, amount and description of every payment of city funds except where the disclosure is prohibited by law; the comprehensive annual financial report; the annual treasurer's report, which lists the total amount of funds paid to each vendor in excess of $2,500 and a listing of all city wages paid the previous year; the budget forecast, which shows a comparison of actual spending against budgeted line items; and a copy of all contracts entered into by the city.

The resolution states the city should post the documents no later than 45 days after they become available to the comptroller.

When the resolution came before the city council last week at the committee of the whole meeting, it was recommended by a 4-3 vote, with Dennis Roberts, Lynne Barnes and Robert Lewis opposed and Smyth, Brandon Bowersox, David Gehrig and Heather Stevenson in favor.

"My view is we started doing this several years ago, and I'm very comfortable with making it official policy," Smyth said. "You don't get bragging rights unless it's official policy."

Prussing said that while she opposes the resolution, she would not veto it if it passes.

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