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City correct to require openness, transparency

Rock Falls city officials and the Rock Falls Tourism group should sit down together and work to resolve their differences. No. 1 on the agenda must be absolute transparency regarding the expenditure of public funds.

Published: Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Openness and transparency go a long way toward building solid relationships.

That applies to human beings.

It also applies to governmental relations.

The problems that have developed between the city of Rock Falls and Rock Falls Tourism come down to an apparent lack of openness and transparency regarding how newly generated tourism tax dollars are being spent (in 2012-13, that amount was more than $150,000) and also the status of more than $660,000 in reserves that was turned over by the city to the tourism group 6 years ago.

The city has reached the point that it decided to terminate its agreement with Rock Falls Tourism. Officials may take legal action as well.

Tourism folks don’t see what the problem is and defend their stewardship of public money.

To us, the road to a possible amicable solution is clear: Get everybody to sit down together and talk this thing out.

No. 1 on the agenda must be absolute transparency regarding the expenditure of public funds.

The city is ultimately responsible for how tourism tax dollars are spent. But it can’t exercise much oversight if financial information is not forthcoming from Rock Falls Tourism.

Mayor Bill Wescott reported that an audit of the tourism funds reached him just Wednesday, after he had tried to obtain it since May.

So, that is a start.

Now, city officials and aldermen can review it, and decide what to do next.

From what we can tell, Rock Falls Tourism has done what it’s supposed to do regarding the promotion of the city to potential visitors.

The group must now show that it has done what it’s supposed to do with the taxpayer dollars entrusted to it.

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