CHICAGO – Twenty-two government agencies in suburban Lake County were graded in the latest round of the Illinois Policy Institute's government transparency audits, dubbed the Local Transparency Project. All the government agencies that were graded are in Vernon Township.
Vernon Hills received the top score in the audit – a grade of 75.6 out of a possible 100 points - showing the largest improvement during the three-month project by increasing its score by 47 points. Two other governments received passing marks: the village of Wheeling and Deerfield School District 109.
Nineteen government entities failed the audit. They include:
The villages of Bannockburn, Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Mettawa, Mundelein and Riverwoods; Aptakisic-Tripp School District #102, Bannockburn School District #106, Diamond Lake School District #76, Hawthorne School District #73, Kildeer Countryside School District #96, Lake Forest School District #67, Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District #103, College of Lake County #532, Libertyville Comm High School District #128, Mundelein Cons High School District #120, Stevenson High School District #125; and the Township of Vernon.
The village of Indian Creek did not have an official website and therefore was not included in the audit.
“As we see in events from around the world, democracy can only be successful with informed citizenry. Informed engagement by those citizens can only be accomplished by the availability of information,” said Mike Allison, Vernon Hills village manager. “Transparency in what we do as government officials is the only way that democracy will thrive. Information and acting on that information is paramount to honest, fair and successful democratic governance. I applaud the efforts of the Transparency Project in the encouragement of government at every level to aspire to greater transparency.”
The Institute’s Local Transparency Project grades local governments on how much public data is readily available on public websites, basing scores on the availability of vital community information, such as public meeting schedules, government employee salaries and tax rates, to the public. Since the project launched in February 2010, more than 275 government entities have been graded.
“Local government agencies should be transparent and accountable to taxpayers, especially when those taxing bodies are funded by some of the highest property taxes in the entire Midwest,” said Brian Costin, director of government reform at the Illinois Policy Institute and a Buffalo Grove resident. “It’s extremely difficult for residents, taxpayers and government watchdogs to hold their elected representatives accountable if basic financial information is not readily available online.”