Finding out how your school — or any local government for that matter — is spending its money is easy.

Almost since our state was founded, Hoosier parents have had that important right. This newspaper is a good place to begin your search for information because local governments are required to advertise their annual budgets in public notices appearing in the local publication of record.

Most Indiana governments work on their annual budgets in August, September and October, and that is when those legal advertisements begin appearing in this newspaper.

KPC Media Group operates the primary newspapers serving Noble, DeKalb, LaGrange and Steuben counties, therefore, local governments run those legal notices in our publications.

They’re hard to miss — especially because for the bigger governments, the budget notices are sizable and often take up an entire page or more

OK, but what if you’re not a subscriber or you miss those notices in print? We’ve got you covered.

Our reporters cover your counties, cities, towns, schools and libraries and, in the fall, it’s not uncommon to find coverage of local budget meetings; we report on budget discussions and approvals and detail highlights of what’s in the spending plans for next year.

Our reporters highlight what’s new and what’s changing. How much has the budget increased/decreased? Are there some new items in next year’s budget and why? Are new employees being added, major purchases being made or are expenses rising in certain departments?

Those stories run in newsprint and are also available 24/7 on kpcnews.com in our searchable archive. Even non-subscribers have access to a few free articles per month, so if you haven’t used those up viewing other news stories, you’ll still be able to access those.

But if you’re out of free articles, can’t find them on the website or don’t find the level of detail you want, what else can you do?

You can check the Indiana Gateway, a public information portal run by the state including numerous types of local government documents and information.

At gateway.ifionline.org click on “Search for Reports,” where you can then find a link for “Budgets.” From there, you can access a line-item budget that’s searchable by year, county and then government unit, including county government, your cities and towns, school districts, libraries, townships, even the solid waste management district and lake conservancy districts.

Lastly, what if you want to see what your government is spending right now and not just budgeted for the year?

Claims — the bills your local government pays — are public records. Any citizen can request a copy of a claims register or even ask to see individual claims.

The Indiana Access to Public Records Act allows all Hoosiers the right to “inspect and copy” public records, so at a bare minimum you can review any documents or duplicate them (copying fees may apply).

You’ll need to know what you’re looking for and ask for it with at least some specificity in order for the local government to fulfill your request. Overly broad or intensive requests can be rejected, so provide as much information as you can like approximate date, vendor name or fund — to help local officials find what you’re looking for.

With the information available in local newspapers such as ours and the access laws enshrined in the Indiana Code, Hoosiers have several avenues to access information about government spending.

We hope this encourages you to find and follow information about how your tax dollars are being spent.

Informed citizens are essential for a thriving democracy.
© 2022 KPC Media Group, Inc.