The Ashe County Government is working to become more transparent, and the change is coming sooner rather than later.
“We need to be more transparent,” said Sam Yearick, Ashe County Manager. “We are planning on making resources more easily available.”
Ashe County was recently given a “D” rating by the John Locke foundation, which runs the N.C. Transparency website. While the website says many items are unavailable, people can go to the Courthouse to get the information.
According to the N.C. Transparency, Ashe County does not have the checkbook, capital improvement plans, number of county employees, audit reports or the county budget available online.
A simple search on the Ashe County Government website shows the budget is available to view online. The County of Ashe is the county’s third largest employer behind Ashe County Schools and AEV.
Ashe County has maintained a score of “18” throughout 2013.
The score is on a scale of 0 to 100, with each item the county has available providing a higher score. For example, having the county budget available is worth 10 points, while having the number of county employees online is worth five.
Also, ease of providing the content plays a role in the score. If an audit is available, but is difficult to read, the county will not receive full credit.
Yearick said the county government is planning on adding the audit reports. When the audits are added, that information will cover several of the other resources the Raleigh-based think-tank group says the county does not show.
Recently, the Ashe County government started posting videos of the twice-monthly Board of Commissioner meetings online. County Clerk Ann Clark said there are plans to start putting the Commissioner’s work sessions before the meetings online as well.
Clark said some of the changes would have come sooner, but they were delayed while the county looked for a new county manager, now filled by Yearick.
In the High Country, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties scored a “D” rating. Alleghany and Wilkes counties had a “C” rating, while Watauga County had the High Country’s highest grade with a “B” rating.
All municipalities and school systems in the High Country, except for the Avery County School System (which scored a “C”), received a “D” rating.
Two counties in the state, Rowan and Yadkin, received the only “A+” scores. Five additional counties received a score of “A.”
For more information on Ashe County’s score, go to: http://www.nctransparency.com/details/5/ashe-county