Newspaper association launches government-transparency tool

2013-08-30T13:30:00Z 2013-08-30T18:01:22Z Newspaper association launches government-transparency toolJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

Residents can go online to find out when a neighbor's home is being foreclosed on, if a business down the block has applied for a liquor license and how a local government proposes to spend their tax dollars.

The Hoosier State Press Association, a trade association that represents more than 160 newspapers across Indiana, has rolled out a revamped online database of public notice advertisements, which inform people about what is going on in their communities. Residents can visit www.indianapublicnotices.com to find out what their city's budget will be next year or if a someone wants to rezone a property in their neighborhood.

They can search for public notices by keyword, date, location or newspaper for free at the website, which now has easier-to-navigate features.

Public notices can be a source of potential business opportunities. Real estate investors monitor them to look for foreclosed properties that have gone to sheriff's sale. Architectural firms keep an eye out for building projects that could bring them design commissions. Businesses can learn about contracts they could get, such as if a city or town were looking to update a fleet of police cars.

Residents can visit the online clearinghouse to learn what their local, county and state governments are doing, and how they are spending tax dollars.

"This results in maximum government transparency," said Steve Key, executive director of the HSPA. "Indianapublicnotices.com offers another tool to track how elected leaders make decisions and spend tax dollars."

Such notices are originally published in The Times of Northwest Indiana and other newspapers across the state. The Hoosier State Press Association archives the notices online to ensure they are easily accessible to everyone, said Robyn McCloskey, president of the HSPA board of directors.

"Public notices remain one of the three pillars of government transparency," said McCloskey, who is also the publisher of the Kokomo Tribune and of the Pharos-Tribune in Logansport. "Indiana's Public Notice Advertising Law joins the Access of Public Records Act and Open Door Law in supporting the public's right to know how public servants conduct business."

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