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Scott County Open Government Grade
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Scott County Open Government Grade

From the Open Government: Do the Quad-Cities make the grade? series
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Scott County: A

WEBSITE (28 of 30 points possible): Scott County’s website is topped by a mixture of notices for news and events. Among the features is a warning about a rental house scam, the onset of a state study of Interstate-80 and presentations related to its 2017 budget, slated to be voted upon by mid-March.

Meeting agendas can be found under the Board of Supervisors link. The minutes are attached at the bottom of the meeting agenda after a meeting has been completed. Agendas, packets and minutes were posted back to Jan. 4, 2016. 

A random check on March 10 of the board’s March 8 committee-of-the-whole meeting showed minutes attached. A March 1 committee-of-the-whole meeting, for which a budget work session was listed on the agenda, did not have minutes attached. A check, on the same day, of the scheduled March 10 meeting showed an agenda with links to briefing documents (a board packet) for each item.

A random check of the county Plan and Zoning Commission’s part of the website said its most recent meeting was on Feb. 16. There were no minutes listed. The previous meeting, on Feb. 2, had detailed minutes listed on the website.

Scott County’s website has budget documents going back to fiscal year 2004.

There is contact information for all five county supervisors, including cellphone numbers.

County documents were easy to access, though the user has a moderate amount of experience with the website.

Meeting notifications are clearly marked on the county’s home page.

There is an open records link on the county administrator’s page, which is available on the county’s home page.

MEETINGS (25 of 25): Fifty-one meetings of the Scott County Board were held between Aug. 11, 2015, and March 10, 2016, according to the county's website. There were five executive sessions between those dates, with is 9.8 percent.

BUDGET/FINANCIALS (35 of 35): The budget/financials section of the county’s website can be found on the county administrator’s page, which is a link off the county’s home page. The most recently approved Scott County budget plan, for fiscal year 2016, was a 432-page document. It included a variety of charts, graphs and narratives describing trends in county revenues and expenses, among other matters. The site’s budget and financials page also included, for years going back to 2004, a number of links presenting other, brief presentations (often used in preparing a particular year’s budget for approval) that included charts and graphs describing the county’s financial trends, as well as other matters. There also were quarterly reports posted for departments and activities within them.

Accounts payable and purchasing card reports are included under a Claims Report heading that can be accessed by clicking onto a link for a meeting of the full board.

I randomly selected the Feb. 25, 2016, board meeting and found claims reports attached.

RECORDS (8 of 10): I emailed an open records request to the county administrator on March 3, shortly before 3 p.m., asking for a copy of the number of board sessions held in the past five years, as well as the number of executive sessions; minutes for the past five executive sessions; a copy of the last county budget, if it wasn’t available on the website, and expense reports showing accounts payable and the payroll for the week of Oct. 12–18, 2015.

I received a telephone phone call in a little more than a half hour from the administrator who said all the records were online, with the exception of the expense/payroll and accounts payable information. After some discussion refining the scope of the request, a summary of that information was provided by 4:30 p.m. There was no charge. Fees for records are not listed on the Scott County website or on its Open Records request form. Scott County charges 25 cents per page after the first 10 pages, plus postage if anything must be mailed. If staff time is required in excess of 30 minutes, a hourly rate is calculated. 

The minutes of county board executive sessions are noted, in parentheses, on the link to each of the open session’s minutes. The occurrence of closed meetings are not noted on the links to each of the county board’s meeting, but are noted in parentheses after clicking on a particular date’s meeting link. The minutes of the closed session were made a part of a meeting’s open session minutes. And the past five were held on Nov. 17, 2015, Nov. 3, 2015, Oct. 6, 2015, Sept. 8, 2015 and Aug. 11, 2015. Three of the closed sessions were for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining. Two were for the purpose of discussing either ongoing or imminent litigation.

The meeting minutes for the closed sessions contained no details of what was discussed.

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