We say this because Weaver’s budgets have become a front-page story in Calhoun County. As reporter Laura Johnson explained in Thursday’s Star, council members have voted recently to discontinue certain city services because of budgeting concerns. That’s a distinct change from the city’s financial outlook less than a year ago.
That change is cause enough for people to wonder: What’s going on with Weaver’s finances?
The Star has asked several times for copies of Weaver’s budgets and other financial documents. Under the state’s Open Records Act, such records are public unless specifically exempt from state law. To date, the city has delayed releasing copies of the reports, saying that staffers were too busy to honor those requests.
We do not doubt the workload felt at Weaver City Hall. But that doesn’t change the fact that Weaver’s basic governmental documents are not privileged information. Under state law, residents have just as much legal right to copies as does The Star.
Let us remind Weaver residents that they deserve to know how their taxpayer money is being spent and how minders are handling the city’s checkbook. Yes, it’s an election year, and anything that happens in politics during this time of the political cycle can be viewed with a biased tint. That’s why it’s best to stick to the basic facts.
Concerns within the City Council have caused council members to cut back on spending on certain items. Questions are being asked. Mayor Garry Bearden has said in recent meetings that the city’s financial standing was in jeopardy.
That should cause Weaver residents to yearn for details about the city’s money: where does it stand? How deep is the alarm? This is a case where transparency is not only the law, it’s wise public policy that benefits everyone involved.