Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Happening Now

Van Buren Group Aims for Transparency in County Government

A group of Van Buren County citizens have come together in an effort to provide clarity in local politics to area residents.

Virigina Evans is a trustee with, a nonprofit organization formed after citizens expressed concern over and petitioned against the county’s recently-proposed wheel tax.

“One of the first things we noticed was people were not attending the commission meetings,” Evans said. “We found out later that not only were they not attending, but the government had forgotten that people needed to attend to a degree… and that they weren’t even aware they were publishing the wrong address for the meeting location in both their publication of records, the [Sparta] Expositor, and also on their own website.”

Evans said organizers of the group had noticed a contrast between the county officials and residents when it came to public meetings.

“The government was no longer considering the people to be part of what’s going on, and the people had become complacent and they weren’t attending the meetings,” Evans said. “When we attended our first county commission meeting, both the Mayor and and I believe the legal counsel stated that it was rare to see people in these chairs.”

Evans said the increased attention on local government has increased participation outside of the meeting rooms as well, as seen with last week’s wheel tax vote.

“Last year in the county, in one of the primary elections we had a little over a thousand voters in that primary election,” Evans said. “With all the involvement that we have going on now, the information we’re sharing and the engagement… the single item special election for the wheel tax, the result for that was participation of 940 people. That’s pretty impressive for this small county.”

The organization will meet this evening at 6 p.m. at the Van Buren County Senior Center in Spencer to discuss upcom