The Cayuga County Legislature Ways and Means Committee held a pair of spirited meetings last week regarding the proposed 2015 county budget. Much of the discussion centered around spending cuts, and specifically how expense reductions would translate into jobs eliminated. The county is facing tough financial times, and in order to balance the budget and set operations on a more stable path, some tough choices must be made.

With that in mind, county officials should be doing all they can to share information about the budget with the public. What we’ve seen so far, however, has been minimal at best.

For starters, the county needs to get its proposed budget documents posted to the official Cayuga County government website, and it should be placed there in a prominent way.

As of Friday afternoon, we could find nothing at www.cayugacounty.us on the 2015 budget proposal.

For a model on how to share information during a municipal budget process, the county can look a couple of blocks away to Auburn’s city hall. Last spring and summer, the city created a robust budget package on its website that gave residents access to loads of useful information.

That effort is one of the reasons the city’s website graded near the top of a list of municipal sites evaluated recently by government watchdog group Empire Center for New York State Policy. The county’s site was in the large group that received a failing grade.

The point of those rankings wasn’t to chastise local governments for having bad sites, but to help raise awareness to the tremendous opportunity they now have with the proliferation of digital media.

In 2014, vital government information at all levels can be just a few keystrokes away, and that can translate into improved customer service and public awareness.

The 2015 budget process is a great opportunity for the Cayuga County government to improve its website and also engage the community it serves. We hope they take advantage of it as quickly as possible.

© 2014 Auburn Citizen

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.