The Beaufort County School District was rated third highest in South Carolina for website transparency, with an overall A-minus, according to Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit group that evaluates information provided by school districts and local and state governments.
In contrast, Beaufort County received only a C. Sunshine Review's grading criteria do not include financial expenditure reporting. If included in the evaluation, our county likely would have received a D or an F.
County quarterly website financial reports contain more than 200 pages of confusing data, with a presentation meant only for trained accountants with lots of time. It uses account numbers and detail in a convoluted manner. There is no meaningful data in a few pages, as found in the annual audited report.
County website cost reporting on the 1 percent sales tax referendum for $152 million in road projects is missing. Before the new Lady's Island bridge and road widening was completed, a councilman had a report showing overspending of $13 million on this project. But the website is silent. Apparently some projects were delayed while the county searched for more funding. Is this poor estimating, poor management or deliberately misleading?
Regular capital expenditure reports have disappeared from the website. These were not of value because many projects had no budget to compare to spending. Some were previously reported without budgets, others were badly overspent. Check the school district website for excellent financial reporting each quarter.
Why hasn't County Council established meaningful policies on financial transparency?