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Transparency Is Vital on Finances

Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being used by local governments. That seems self-evident. One mechanism for ensuring that happens in West Virginia is a requirement that annual financial statements be prepared and published by municipal entities.

That may not have been happening in Chester, to judge by comments during a city council meeting last week.

Councilman Tom Paisley suggested during the meeting that council should create a financial committee “to look into getting the city’s accounting practices … in line with the state code that says that we publish financial statements.” A goal would be to “make sure that we publish them within the next year. We owe several years, to be sure,” Paisley added.

After some discussion, council members took no action. It may come up at a future meeting.

It should. Paisley was absolutely correct in urging council “to get this committee going so that we’re not in the same shape that we were in this year by not being able to provide financial statements.”

At some point, failure to prepare financial statements could mean an unpleasant phone call from the state auditor’s office. Council members should act expeditiously to prevent that — and to uphold their responsibility to Chester taxpayers.

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