Strong and open fiscal controls, full public disclosure of revenue and expenses and strict ethical standards.

We have the right to expect each of those from the Eastern Oregon Event and Trade Center authority board.

Thanks to Dennis Doherty and fellow Umatilla County commissioners Larry Givens and Bill Hansell, EOTEC will meet those standards.

It’s what all Oregonians deserve in government, from the most obscure entity to its largest agencies.

Doherty, a former district attorney who also serves on the EOTEC board, brought up the issue of fiscal controls earlier this month at a Hermiston City Council meeting.

He told them in his typical no-nonsense language that until the board met the requirements, established in a May 23 memo from the county, the county would not transfer nearly $3 million it received for the sale of the fair property in Hermiston.

That May 23 memo was written by county counsel Doug Olsen, county finance director Robert Pahl and county budget officer Bob Heffner.

Before Doherty’s message to the council and then in a letter from commissioners to the EOTEC board on Friday, there was little financial information available to the public. The East Oregonian has repeatedly editorialized about the lack of budget information.

About the only info available was a photocopied, handwritten, rudimentary breakdown of anticipated revenue and expenses provided to the Hermiston Herald after then-Editor Neill Woelk made an open records request. What he got at that time was simply inadequate. Quite frankly, the numbers were — at best — overly optimistic. More importantly, it revealed little about the current and potential financial standing of the EOTEC.

Then, the authority had a bill it needed to pay and county commissioners, among others, realized proper financial controls weren’t in place.

Now, thanks to the commissioners, there will be real numbers and, perhaps more importantly, proper checks and balances in place.

To its credit, EOTEC’s board and chairman Ed Brookshier didn’t balk Friday at the county’s requirements.

Brookshier and the board agreed to let the county draft a set of policies by which the EOTEC authority will operate.

The county will complete the policies in time for the next EOTEC meeting on Sept. 28.

Brookshier said the county will establish fiscal procedures tailored to the needs of the trade and event center board, including public meetings law, public contracts and purchasing policies, investment, budgeting, audit and ethics rules.

Doherty said the county-written policy will comply with accounting principles required of public bodies.

It will give Umatilla County residents a more transparent and accountable view of the trade and event center board’s dealings. That’s as it should be.

We appreciate Doherty’s commitment, as well as that of commissioners Givens and Hansell, in establishing the fiscal requirements for this important endeavor.

The center can provide an outstanding venue for the county fair and other events, but only if it is operated with all the policies and procedures required of public bodies.

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