Ordinance (Aug 25, 2014)
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FOR COUNCIL: August 25, 2014
SUBJECT: Website Transparency Policy
RECOMMENDATION/MOTION: That the Ordinance be passed.
STRATEGIC PLAN LINK: Goal 1. Financially sound City providing quality basic services.
STRATEGIC PLAN SIGNIFICANCE: Objective 1c. Engaged residents that are well informed and involved in an open governance process.
BACKGROUND: The Illinois Policy Institute has developed a Ten-Point Transparency Checklist to help provide a “best practices” framework to improve government transparency across the State of Illinois. This Checklist encourages the following information to be provided on a public body’s website: (1) Elected Administrative Officials: Contact Information; (2) Meeting Information: Calendar (Future) Minutes Board Packets (Past); (3) Public Records: FOIA submission FOIA Officer Contact Information; (4) Budgets: General and Special Projects; (5) Financial Audits: Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports; (6) Expenditures: Bills Payroll; (7) Salary Benefits: Wages, Salary, Overtime, Health, Dental, Life, Pension, etc.; (8) Contracts: Union, Private Contractors, Vendors, Council Contract; (9) Lobbying: TaxpayerFunded Lobbying Associations; and (10) Taxes Fees: Sales, Property, Income, and Miscellaneous Taxes, Non-proprietary in excess of $25,000.
The City is committed to transparency in the conduct of the public’s business. It should be noted that in 2013, Bloomington was one (1) of only fifty (50) of the nearly 7,000 communities in Illinois to earn the Illinois Policy Institute’s Sunshine Award for outstanding online transparency performance. Upon final audit, Bloomington earned 88.7 points out of 100, an improvement of thirty (30) points over the City’s first audit score, and finished in ninth place overall for web transparency in the State of Illinois.
City staff has modeled a Website Transparency Policy based off the Illinois Policy Institute’s checklist. This Policy was previously reviewed by the Council at a Committee of the Whole meeting at which time there was a desire communicated to have it adopted by Ordinance as opposed by Resolution and to make sure that City staff had sufficient time to implement the changes set forth within the Policy. The Resolution has now been modified into an Ordinance and the Policy itself has been updated to provide further clarification on some of the issues and ensure staff has sufficient time to implement the changes.
As opposed to a September 1, 2014 start date, the Policy now calls for implementation effective October 1, 2014. The new version of the Policy also has a standard five (5) year retention policy for all documents. Clarification within the Policy was also made on the requirement that executed contracts, entered into by the Council on or after October 1, 2014, will be placed on the City’s website. It is staff’s intent that once these contracts are executed by all parties, they will be scanned and placed in the appropriate folder on the website. Older contracts will be scanned and placed on the website as resources allow. The revised Policy also clarifies that information on construction and building permits and application fees, along with written applications, will be available on the website. Other permits, fees and applications will be added and provided as available.
The transparency portal on the City’s website will be updated as a result of this Policy to coordinate with the ten (10) areas it outlines. Links will be provided under each category to obtain the information described within the Policy. A large majority of the information detailed within the Policy is already on the website and in many cases the City will be exceeding the Policy’s written standards. Staff is hopeful that by adding even more information to the website and clarifying where documents can be found, there will be a reduction in FOIA requests.
COMMUNITY GROUPS/INTERESTED PERSONS CONTACTED: This Policy was drafted based on recommendations from the Illinois Public Policy Institute.
FINANCIAL IMPACT: Not applicable.
Respectfully submitted for Council consideration.
Prepared by: Jeffrey R. Jurgens, Corporation Counsel
Recommended by: David A. Hales, City Manager
Attachments: Attachment 1. Ordinance Adopting A City Website Transparency Policy
Motion: That the ordinance be passed.
AN ORDINANCE ADOPTING A CITY WEBSITE TRANSPARENCY POLICY
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS:
WHEREAS, the City Council recognizes the importance and the need for an open and transparent government to serve its residents; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Policy Institute is a “non-partisan research organization dedicated to supporting public policy initiatives for a better Illinois.”
WHEREAS, the Illinois Policy Institute describes itself, “as a leading voice for economic liberty and government accountability, the Institute engages policy makers, opinion leaders and citizens on the state and local level.”
WHEREAS, the Illinois Policy Institute has developed its Ten-Point Transparency Checklist to hold government and elected officials accountable to the taxpaying public. In addition, this checklist will provide a “best practices” framework to improve government transparency across the State of Illinois.
WHEREAS, the Illinois Policy Institute’s Ten Point Checklist is a proactive guideline to ensure that government bodies freely share the identified information with the public.
WHEREAS, the Ten-Point Transparency Checklist includes but is not limited to the following: (1) Elected Administrative Officials: Contact Information; (2) Meeting Information: Calendar (Future) Minutes Board Packets (Past); (3) Public Records: FOIA submission FOIA Officer Contact Information; (4) Budgets: General and Special Projects; (5) Financial Audits: Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports; (6) Expenditures: Bills Payroll; (7) Salary Benefits: Wages, Salary, Overtime, Health, Dental, Life, Pension, etc.; (8) Contracts: Union, Private Contractors, Vendors, Council Contract; (9) Lobbying: TaxpayerFunded Lobbying Associations; and (10) Taxes Fees: Sales, Property, Income, and Miscellaneous Taxes, Non-proprietary in excess of $25,000.
WHEREAS, the City Council is committed to transparency in the conduct of the public’s business; and
WHEREAS, utilizing the Illinois Policy Institutes the City Council has developed standards for the City website to provide the public with information in an accountable and transparent manner; and
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS:
SECTION 1. That the above recitals are hereby incorporated into the body of this Ordinance and restated as though set forth herein.
SECTION 2. The City’s Website Transparency Policy, attached hereto and made a part of as Exhibit “A”, is hereby adopted by the City Council.
SECTION 3. In the event that any section, clause, provision, or part of this Ordinance shall be found and determined to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid parts shall remain in full force and effect.
SECTION 4. The City Clerk is hereby authorized to publish this ordinance in pamphlet form as provided by law.
SECTION 5. This ordinance shall be effective immediately after the date of its publication as required by law.
SECTION 6. This ordinance is passed and approved pursuant to the home rule authority granted Article VII, Section 6 of the 1970 Illinois Constitution.
PASSED this 25th day of August, 2014.
APPROVED: Tari Renner, Mayor
ATTEST: Tracey Covert, City Clerk
EXHIBIT A: CITY OF BLOOMINGTON WEBSITE TRANSPARENCY POLICY
This policy provides guidance as to how the City presents public information in a transparent and accountable manner, with emphasis on openness, ethics, and fiscal responsibility. This policy is a minimum standard and should not inhibit the dissemination of other public information where appropriate. In many cases, the information contained herein, and more, is already on the City’s website and this policy is simply designed to provide a framework and baseline for the documents and information made available electronically. It is further recognized that the City’s resources are limited and in some cases compliance may be phased in as set forth within the policy. Finally, the retention dates set forth in this policy refer to recommendations from the Illinois Policy Institute and will be followed to the extent that website space allows.
II. Effective Date
The provisions of this Policy shall be applicable on or after October 1, 2014.
As part of the commitment of the City to open, transparent and honest government, the City website at www.cityblm.org shall include the following information and documents accessed by a link named “Transparency” on the website homepage.
1. Elected Administrative Officials
The City website shall include contact information, including name, department or office, job title, mailing address, facsimile number, telephone number, and an electronic contact method for all elected City Council members. The contact information for the City Manager and each City Department shall also be listed on the website. The website shall finally contain a listing of all other City boards and commissions and the names of the individuals appointed to serve on same.
2. Meeting information
The City website shall comply with the Illinois Open Meetings Act. The City website shall include the annual meeting schedule and monthly calendar for all meetings of the City Council and the City controlled boards and commissions. The website shall also include agendas, packets, minutes, audio and video recordings of all open sessions of City Council meetings. Meeting dates may be changed and meetings may be canceled, subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act. The City shall use its best efforts to promptly update the City’s website to notify the public of any canceled or rescheduled meetings.
The City Council meeting agendas, packets and minutes shall remain available on the City’s website for a minimum of five (5) years after completion of the City Council meeting. Audio and video recordings of open sessions of City Council meetings shall remain on the City’s website for at least one calendar year after completion of the City Council meeting. Once per year, the City Clerk may remove audio and video recordings that have been on the City’s website for at least one calendar year as authorized by law. Subsequently, the City Clerk may apply to the Illinois Records Commission for disposal of all audio and video recordings of open sessions that have been removed from the City’s website.
Previous City Council meeting packets and minutes shall remain on the City’s website for a minimum of five years.
3. Public Records / FOIA Requests
The City website shall include the name, department or office, job title, mailing address, telephone number, and an electronic contact method for all City Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officers, along with the mailing address, facsimile number, and electronic submission method for FOIA requests.
The City website shall include the detailed budget for the current fiscal year, along with the detailed budgets for a minimum of five prior fiscal years. This information is to be listed on the City’s website in a user-friendly format (e.g., listed and/or searchable) as possible and/or resources allow.
5. Financial Audits
The City website shall include the City’s Annual Audited Financial Reports for a minimum of five years after the City’s auditor presents the Audited Financial Report to the City Council. This information is to be listed on the City’s website in a user-friendly format (e.g., listed and/or searchable) as possible and/or resources allow.
The City website shall include the City’s bi-monthly claims reports, which shall include, where applicable, bills processed for all City funds presented within the City’s annual financial statements, including bills and payroll applicable to special revenue, debt service, capital project, enterprise, agency and internal service funds (as well as special funds). This shall be in the form of the Bills Payroll Report. The Report shall be in a searchable format and shall include the name of the payee, the amount of expenditure, and the line item and/or account number. The Bills Payroll Report will remain on the City’s website for a minimum of five years after the City Council has approved the Report.
7. Salary Benefits
Starting with Fiscal Year 2013, the City website shall display total compensation for each City budgeted position per fiscal year in a searchable format. Each City budgeted position will be displayed by position and department or office. City paid benefits shall be shown in separate categories, including, total compensation, budgeted salary, clothing allowance, health and dental insurance, life insurance, pension, FICA, and Medicare. In addition, annual vacation days, annual personal and sick days, and annual number of holidays will be shown for each City budgeted position. This information shall be updated as required by law and shall remain available on the City’s website for a minimum of five years after the information has been posted on the City’s website.
The City website shall include a copy of all executed vendor contracts in excess of $25,000 entered into by the City Council on or after October 1, 2014, which shall remain available on the City’s website for five years after the contracts have been executed by the parties. Existing agreements or contracts with the City (i.e., those in existence prior to October 1, 2014 and in excess of $25,000) shall be placed onto the City’s website as City staff is able to do so and as resources allow. City staff shall also attempt to categorize the contracts and agreements and make access to said contracts and agreements searchable if resources allow. Those contracts involving proprietary matters and/or information shall not be placed on the City’s website.
The City website shall also display the current union contracts for all bargaining units. The union contracts will remain posted on the website until a new union contract is approved and ratified by the bargaining unit and the City Council.
The City website shall also include a section on the City’s procurement services, including how to do business with the City and any current request for proposals or bidding opportunities offered by the City.
The City Council does not currently have a contract with a certified lobbyist. If the City ever enters into a lobbying contract, it will be posted on the City’s website in accordance with Section 8. In addition, the City Council, Elected Officials and multiple departments may have memberships with various associations. Any contracts with those associations will be posted in accordance with Section 8 and payments made to those associations posted in accordance with Section 6.
10. Taxes and Fees
The City website shall contain a section on local tax information. This section shall include information on the City’s taxes, including amusement, food and beverage, hotel/motel, motor fuel, packaged liquor, utilities, property and sales tax. This section shall be updated to coincide with any changes to existing local taxes and/or rate changes. Information on the City’s construction and building permit and application fees shall also be listed, along with any applicable written application. This information is to be listed on the City’s website in a user-friendly format (e.g., listed and/or searchable) as possible and/or resources allow.