Eighty-five percent of the websites for New York’s largest local governments and school districts are failing to provide taxpayers with basic, easy-to-find information, according to the 2014 SeeThroughNY Local Government Website Report Card, released today by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

The report card was based on thorough reviews of 500 county, town, city, village and school district websites between July and September. Websites for the state’s most populous counties, municipalities and school districts were rated on the basis of whether they provided items such as contact information, spending data, labor contracts and public meeting records, and the ease with which the items could be located.

“We want to begin a conversation about the level of transparency that the public can expect from the people who spend their tax dollars,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. “We hope these standards will help municipalities do a better job of providing basic public information that will help taxpayers know how their money is spent, and how and when decisions are made by elected officials.”

The Empire Center gave each locality and school district in the study the opportunity to view and comment on the rankings before they were released. Reaction from municipal officials was mostly positive, with some even taking immediate action to make improvements to websites, according to Hoefer.

“This project is the beginning of what we think can be a productive discussion of how local officials present data and information to taxpayers,” Hoefer said.

The top-scoring local governments were Schuyler County, New York City, the towns of Penfield and Wilton, the village of Rye Brook and Clarkstown Central School District. Two villages, Ballston Spa and New Square, had no websites to be reviewed.

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt 501(c)3 think tank based in Albany. It sponsors SeeThroughNY.net, a transparency website that includes an extensive database of government payrolls, comparative data and other information.

You may also like

Most Long Island Educators Paid at Least $100,000 Last Year

18% of all public-school teachers and administrators employed by school districts outside New York City were paid over $100,000 last year Read More

New Public Authority Payroll Data Now Posted at SeeThroughNY 

ALBANY, NY — 2020 for a total of 79,146 employees at 331 different New York State public authorities is now posted at , the Empire Center’s transparency website. 2021 is also posted for a total of 11,073 employees at 23 public aut Read More

$139K Average Pension for New Full-Career FDNY Retirees

Nearly three-quarters of those retiring last year from the City of New York’s Fire Department (FDNY) were eligible for six-figure pensions Read More

Three of 62 Requested COVID Data Sets Made Available through FOIL

Just three COVID data sets have been made fully available in the month since the Empire Center officially submitted 62 FOIL requests Read More

Rec and Restroom Facility Projects Among Fresh DASNY Pork

A total of $87 million in new grants were steered to 174 local projects over the past ten months by Governor Cuomo’s State Dormitory Authority (DASNY) Read More

Legislative Spending in Campaign Year Includes $7 Million in Postage

State lawmakers spent $7.3 million on postage for campaign-style mailings to constituents in the six-month run-up to last year’s elections Read More

Cuomo Administration Approves Additional $45 Million in Pork Spending in 2020, Analysis Finds

The Cuomo administration approved more than $45 million in new pork-barrel capital grants last year.  Read More

NYC Public Educator Pensions Rise Again

Average pension benefits paid to newly retired public educators in New York City rose again in 2020, according to data posted today at SeeThroughNY.net for New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (NYCTRS).  Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

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.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!