Vienna joins auditor project

VIENNA — The city of Vienna is participating in a program through the office of the state auditor to improve transparency.

Project Mountaineer, announced last week by Auditor J.B. McCuskey at a meeting of the West Virginia Municipal League, involves reporting and transparency software that works with a city’s existing accounting software and provides interactive financial reports and dashboards with performance measures.

City officials can access the information for financial efficiency and citizens can access an online portal to view revenue and spending, the auditor’s office said.

“It’s going to be a fantastic tool for us,” Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said.

The pilot cities in the program are Nitro, Elkins, South Charleston, Dunbar and Danville. Vienna and Glenville, Wheeling, Clendenin, Spencer, Logan, Chapmanville, Whitesville, Hamlin, Mitchell Heights, Man and St. Albans are being brought aboard.

The auditor’s office plans to expand Project Mountaineer to the additional cities by the end of this year. The goal is to have more than 150 municipalities online next year.

Several factors will determine when the cities are fully integrated, such as the amount of information involved and how their accounting systems are structured, said Anthony Woods, director of program oversight who oversees Project Mountaineer at the auditor’s office. Besides transparency, another goal of Project Mountaineer is to make the reporting of financial information more efficient and more uniform, Woods said.

“Aging technology and manual financial reporting processes have made it difficult to understand, collect, analyze, and disseminate financial data between West Virginia cities and the state,” McCuskey said in a press release on Monday. “Project Mountaineer unites the state and its municipalities with a modern, easy-to-use, reporting solution.”

Eventually, residents will be able to access financial information through the state portal at wvcheckbook.gov, Woods said. Cities will be encouraged to have links on their websites to the portal, he said.

A benefit that Rapp sees, in addition to the public access of financial information, are requests for documents through the Freedom of Information Act. Project Mountaineer will make it easier to access the information, Rapp said.