Iberia Chamber Announces Support for ‘Louisiana Checkbook’ Website

Author: Terry Dugas

The Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce is lending its support for the proposed Louisiana Checkbook website, identified as HB510 in the legislature.

 

LouisianaCheckbook.com is the online home to the growing movement of citizens and taxpayers who want to see common-sense transparency and accountability for state tax dollars in Louisiana. If implemented, Louisiana Checkbook would be an easy-to-use, frequently-updated website for citizens to see how taxes are being spent by state.

 

The Chamber believes that this website will be of benefit to Iberia Parish business interests as well as of benefit to the state, allowing for better understanding of how money is spent and a simpler view of where funds are allocated. This website will also help to identify budget pitfalls and hopefully help alleviate the partisan budget stalemate that has impacted the state legislature in recent years.

 

A fiscal note from the Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office estimates outsourcing LouisianaCheckbook.com at $716,000 to $785,000 spread over the first three years. Ongoing software licensing and maintenance costs range from $220,000 to $230,000 annually for state departments on the accounting systems LaGov and AFS.  State entities not on these systems would require additional one-time and maintenance expenditures.  New data sets, such as state debt, may require costs for staff or other resources to be determined. Of note, the initial cost estimate in 2008 to build the LaTrac database was $1 million, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office with an annual maintenance cost of $500,000. 

 

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group writes that, “The benefits of transparency websites have come with a low price tag, both for initial creation of the websites and ongoing maintenance…States with transparency websites often realize significant financial returns on their investment. The savings include more efficient government administration, more competitive bidding for public projects, and less staff time spent on information requests. This can add up to millions of dollars in taxpayer savings.” The top state in the nation – Ohio – estimated start-up costs at $814,000.  Most states report that costs were absorbed within the existing budgets and generally appear to be very low, including states with websites that include local government expenditures and sophisticated interactivity.

 

The Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for industry, promoting small business and helping design practices and policies for business in Iberia Parish since 1939. Lead by a 21 member volunteer board of directors, GICC strives to continue to improve the business environment for our 400+ membership, as well as making strides to invest in the Iberia Parish community as a whole.

 

For more information, please call Janet Faulk-Gonzales at 337-364-1836 or email janet@iberiachamber.org