SCOTT COUNTY: A
WEBSITE (31/32 points): Scott County’s home page, scottcountyiowa.com, is an easy-to-navigate mix of news, meeting notices and links to county departments. The homepage, on the early March day it was reviewed, alerted residents that the second installment of property taxes is due at the end of the month, that a new deputy was sworn in recently and, perhaps aware that Sunshine Week is upon us, prominently displayed a link to its open record policies.
Meeting agendas and minutes are accessible by clicking on the "Government" tab, one of three at the top of the website, then selecting "Board of Supervisors" from the drop-down menu. This portion of the site also provides links to supervisors' contact numbers, email addresses and bios. Contact information also is listed on the site for other county officials.
Also under "board meetings," agendas, minutes and detailed board packets date back to 2007.
We found one inaccurate bit of information: In describing the Quad-Cities' MSA, or Metropolitan Statistical Area, Mercer County is left out. It is one of the four counties comprising our MSA.
MEETINGS (23/25 points): In reviewing committee-of-the-whole and regular board meetings between Sept. 6, 2016, and Feb. 23, 2017, we found two executive sessions among 26 meetings in that period of time. One, on Dec. 27, was for the purpose of an employee evaluation. The other, Nov. 15, was for the purpose of discussing pending litigation.
Meeting notifications routinely appear on the homepage.
BUDGET/FINANCIALS (35/35 points): Budget and financial information is available under the "Administration" tab, which can be found in the drop-down menu for “Government," one of the three that are highlighted at the top of the homepage. There is a range of PDF reports on the left side of the menu that include budget and financial documents, staff presentations to supervisors, quarterly reports and comprehensive annual reports.
The budget document contains a raft of charts and graphs as well as an introductory section that summarizes parts of the detailed budget that follow, as well as making certain comparison to other counties. Budgets go back to 2004.
There also is a link to a checkbook, which shows, by department, expenditures made on the county’s purchasing cards, going back to 2011.
RECORDS (9/10 points): The county’s policy on fees for open records is: For production of records in excess of 10 pages a 25-cent fee is charged. In addition, the policy says that “if staff time is required in excess of 30 minutes for the time spent supervising the public examination or to retrieve the requested records, the hourly rate calculated annually by the Budget Manager shall be used.”
On Feb. 14, a reporter made a records request as outlined in the instructions. The next day, the assistant county administrator replied via email.
In response to the request seeking the number of board meetings and closed sessions held over the past five years, a link was provided to the county’s website, which lists meetings, along with notations on the site on the dates where executive sessions were held.
As to the request for minutes of the closed sessions, a link to the auditor’s website was provided. It lists links to board minutes, including closed sessions for the year. For the calendar year 2016, there were six closed sessions listed. In a spot check for the last four months of the year, the minutes for two of the closed sessions were available.