Sky-Hi Transparency Project Hospital and Library Districts Evaluations
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Hospital DistrictLibrary DistrictGeneral Notes
WebsiteMinutes & agendas posted for past three years (5) Bonus for posting board meeting packet (+2)3The district's online information is combined with the Middle Park Medical Center's clinic and services website, which isn't unusual. Board information is available under the "About" menu option at the top, on the "Board of Directors" and "BOD: Minutes/Agendas/Documents" pages. Minutes and agendas only available since 2013, although there are two months' worth of minutes from 2012. (-2). No packets with the agendas. 3The district's online information is combined with their library service, which is not unusual. Specific district information is avaiable under the website's "about us" tab. Minutes and agendas are only posted since mid-2013. (-2) Packets are not available.Websites are becoming extremely important to the voting public. They can serve to alleviate the need for copying fees and records research/retrieval fees. If governments are proactive in posting information and making records available online, it saves government staff the exercise of answering phone calls and responding to simple records requests, and it saves the public from having to pay sometimes ridiculous fees for retrieval. The more transparent the website, the better for everyone.
Budget/expenditures posted for past three years (5)0No financial information available on the website.4Only the 2013 and 2014 budgets, (-1) but audited financial information back to 2007.
Contact information of elected officials/staff (5)1Includes names of elected board members, but absolutely no contact information. (-2) We appreciate that the board president, vice president and secretary have their terms listed, but wonder why this isn't the case for the other two board members. There are email address for the CEO, CNO and exectuive assistant, but no phone numbers (-1). This information also appears outdated. The current CFO, for example, is not listed, nor is the Public Information Officer. (-1)5.5Lists names, titles, phone numbers and mailing addresses for each trustee. We also apprecate they list the trustees' terms clearly with bold type, list the selection process, and the trustee job descriptions. We feel they deserve an extra point for this transparency (+1). The trustees don't have personalized email addresses, but do have a general one (-.5) Key staff has specific contact information under each library branch contact page, including emails, phone numbers, addresses and directions to the branch.The public is entitled to contact information of the people it elects for representation. Contact information should be on each government website, and should be easy to find.
Ease of locating tax burden and documents (5)3Board minutes, agendas and some misc. documents are easy to find, and website is easy to navigate, but we're disappointed there is no financial information. (-1) There's also no information found on the district's taxpayer boundaries and the tax burden.5The mill levys for the district are clearly called out and explained in plain language under the Library District page, and we appreciate this transparency. All other documents are easy to find and the website is easy to navigate overall.
Open records procedures and fees publsihed (5)0No information about this, and there seemed to be some internal confusion about who should handle FOIA requests when we began our project.0We found no information on this.There should be no suprises when a person request records from a government agency. Reasonable fees should be clearly outlined to prevent this.
Meetings notification (5)2This is generally explained in the PDF document "Annual Notice of Meetings – 2014" under "Board Related Documents." Specific dates aren't easy to find, and it's not clear where one would find out if a meeting was canceled. (-3)5The Board of Trustees page has a very clear schedule of board meetings, including the time and place of each meeting (they rotate between branches).
Total (out of 30)922.5
MeetingsAgendas thoroughness (10)6.5Agendas are very bare-bones, and agendas give the public no indication why executive sessions are being held. (-3) Lists place of meeting, but not address (-.5). Instead of listing times specific agenda items will be discussed, the agenda lists the length of time they'll be discussed (i.e., "5 minutes"). Agendas do have a clear "public comment" section, with very specific instructions. We appreciate they have a clear explanation of what a consent agenda item is, too. We also appreciate the fact they list upcoming meetings. 7The agendas are pretty bare-bones, don't really answer the "why should I care?" question (-3), but include the place, address, time and date of the meetings. Each agenda item includes an estimated time it will be discussed. Agendas should aspire to answer "why should I care?" They should be clear as to what public officials are really doing and discussing. The more detail, the better.
Minutes thoroughness (10)0By far the worse minutes we've seen. Minutes are a chart with a one-sentence explanation or bulleted list of what was discussed. This provides very little useful information and often raises more questions than what it answers. As a chart, the minutes include a actions/follow-up column, which almost never has anything listed and unnecessarily hogs space. All board votes are unanimous in minutes we analyzed, so it's unclear if dissenting votes would be specifically called out. They don't detail times items are discussed or what time or who made the motion to adjourn the meeting. Figuring out how to navigate the minutes in columns of a chart is frustrating. Their intention probably is to try to make it easier for readers, but it's poorly executed. Sometimes information spills into several columns.6The minutes follow agenda outlines quite well, and are generally easy to read and scan. Could provide more detail about some discussion items (-1). Votes and actions items could be more clearly called out (-1), and this seemed to get worse with time instead of better. Occasionally minutes don't even say if anyone seconded certain motions, if anyone made a motion to adjourn, and if certain motions were ever approved (see Nov. 19, 2013). (-2). Never found a case of a trustee dissenting, so it's unclear if these votes would be specified. There is no law on how mintues should be executed, so there is little way to avoid subjectivity. We gave high scores for the minutes most like transcripts. The best scenario is to actually be at the meeting, but when that is not possible, minutes can serve to give a thorough rundown of meeting details, including discussions. Citizens are entitled to read the opinions of elected officials on all topics as one way to hold them accountable.
Draft minutes available (2 BONUS)0Minutes are not made avaiable until approved by the board. 0No. Since it sometimes takes weeks to get minutes approved by a board, we commend governments that share minutes in draft form. According to attorneys with the Colorado Press Assocation, draft minutes are public record and should be made available.
Automatic email notifciation (2 BONUS)0None0None
Exectuve Sessions -infrequency (5)0In the last five years, the hospital district has had 82 meetings with 43 executive sessions, or 52 percent. It also has the worst record of executive sessions we've observed in the last year, holding one nearly every meeting. 20f 63 total meetings, the library district has had 26 executive sessions over the last five years, meaning 41 percent of its meetings include executive sessions. However, it should be noted the frequency of executive sessions has gotten considerably worse over time. From 2009 to 2011, the district only had one executive session each year. In 2012 and 2013, it jumped to 11 and 12, respectively. The executive director said the executive sessions were due to ongoing litigation over the Granby Library roof. That case has since been settled, and she expects the frequency to return to pre-2012 levels.The less executive sessions, or closed meetings, the better in the spirit of transparency.
Executive Sessions - discussion before and after in public session (5)0The minutes for meetings including executive sessions are terrible. The legal rationale is very general, except in cases where the district was searching for a new CEO. There's next to no clarity on what's being discussed in the sessions beyond the bare legal requirements. Absolutely no notes before or after the sessions that would provide any insight. 0Legal rationale for most executive sessions is very general. There's rarely any clarity on what will be discussed beyond bare legal requirements. According to the district's executive director, most executive sessions were regarding ongoing litigation over the Granby Library roof. We encourage them to note details like this in the future. We found only one case of a discussion before or after that even eluded to what would be discussed in the executive session. We asked for meeting minutes directly before and after an executive session to ensure votes out of session in relation to an executive session are properly recorded. It's important to note, the Colorado Sunshine laws specify that when calling an executive meeting into session, boards should provide as much detail as possible about what that executive session will be about. For example, "personnel issue" or "disucussions with the attorney about legal matters" are too vague of reasons and would require more information.
Total (out of 30)6.515
Budget & FinancialBudget - ease of navigation (10)3The district provided both the board's resolution to adopt the budget and a DOLA budget submission letter, which serve as a sort of executive summary and help summarize and explain the numbers very basically. Because the budget is so small, we feel we essentially got a budget summary rather than the actual budget. (-7) We realize hospital finance is complicated, and taxpayer funds from the district make up a small portion of their revenue (5 percent, per the public information officer). Still, $1.2 million from local taxpayers is a lot of money, and the district recieves more government funding through other public programs like Medicare, and given the district's recent financial trouble, we believe they could work to make understanding their budget and finances clearer to the public.3The budget contains no executive summary (-2), table of contents, or navigational tools (-4). It's in a very small font (-1), but does include some "budget notes" to the left in plain language that help readers at least make sense of trends to a small extent. Totals are shaded with gray fill, and expenditures are broken into small sub-sections, but this budget could greatly improve its ease of navigation.Finance details are not everyone's cup of tea, so we encourage government agencies to make budget information as accessable as possible so that every citizen — not just the master accountants — can understand it.
Budget - charts and graphs (5)0None0None
Budget - executive summary (5)2The DOLA budget submission letter does provide a good, short explanation of the district's fund balances, revenues and expenditures. Although it's only one page, it is tough to scan through and could be more user-friendly (-1). It also doesn't provide a comparison to previous years (-1). The board's resolution to adopt the budget could serve as a good summary for taxpayers, and we'd like to see it include specfic information on the milly levy as well as the district boundaries (i.e., who, exactly, pays taxes to the district?). (-1) We appreciate the resolution provides a breakdown of federal, state and local tax revenue.0None
Detailed expense reports (10)8Again, we realize hospital finance is complicated. The public information officer also explained to us that taxpayer funds are not specifically tracked in expenditures. She said: "Please note that in 2013, Middle Park Medical Center spent $20,665,594 between operating expenses, salaries and benefits, which amounts to thousands of transactions. Of that, $5,939,284 was paid with actual checks. The remainder was via electronic funds transfers and direct deposits (payroll). Please note that tax dollars account for about 5 percent of our budget. While we segregate tax revenues from other revenues for financial reporting, we do not “earmark” tax revenues for specific expenditures." The provided check leger included a check number, vendor name, amount paid, and date paid. They do not, however, usually include a description of what the payment was for. (-2)6Information provided was a balance summary, including depsoits and withdrawls. Withdrawals include an identification number or check number, the date ,and amount, but does not say to who the payment was made (-2), what it was for (-2).Daily expense reports should show, in the least, check numbers, the dates, the names checks were issued to, what the checks were for and the amounts. Pertinant budget information related to checks would be helpful as well.
Total (out of 30)139
Records RequestFees (5)3The public information officer informed us they do not currently have a policy for records requests(-2), but they do not charge. 0We were not charged for our request, but the library executive director noted it cost the district about "$500 in staff wages to process the request" When we followed-up and asked for specific informaion on FOIA fees, the director said it was $1.25 per page for copies, well above the state statute. The director said those fees are a mistake, and that they should only be charging 25 cents per page. Since this is still their printed policy at the time of our research, we still subtracted points. (-2.5) Fees for "record search" are $30-$40, above the reasonable rate. (-2.5) A $0-$25 research and retrieval fee has been deemed "reasonable" per the Colorado Court of Appeals. There is no existing open records fee cap in Colorado, but current proposed legislation HB 1193 as currently written seeks to establish a fee cap at four-times the minimum wage, or at $32 an hour. State statute caps copy fees at 25 cents per page, but a recent piece from Complete Colorado challenges this fee, saying it far exceeds the actual costs of copying.
Response/fulfillment of request (5)0The district did not fulfill our request. After the required three days, the CEO had only directed us to their website for agendas and minutes, for which only some we requested were posted. Instead of a budget, the CEO provided the board's resolution to adopt the budget. The CEO only provided a general estimate of the number of board meetings and executive sessions over the last five years, which we found to be incorrect. There even seemed to be internal confusion about who should handle information requests.5The district responded to our request in a timely manner, and provided all information for FOIA requests by the three-day deadline. A Colorado Open Records Request requires a government agency to respond to a request within three working days. If the request requires additional research and work, seven days may be granted to fulfill the request.
Total (out of 10)35
Library and Hosp Evaluations
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