Richard EckstromS.C. Comptroller Richard Eckstrom says his office has spent recent months developing procedures to track revenues generated by the new road-funding law — which raises the gas tax and vehicle registration fees — and post the expenditures of them on the web. He expects to begin posting monthly, itemized reports of this information within the next few weeks.

“Many South Carolinians were understandably concerned about the increased burden the new law places on them with these new taxes and fees,” Eckstrom said. “At the very least, they deserve to see how this money is spent.”

“Transparency in gas tax spending will provide an extra layer of oversight and accountability,” he said. “The more sets of eyes viewing these expenditures, the better.”

Spending on roads by the Department of Transportation had already been available on the state’s Fiscal Transparency Website. Yet due to the high level of public interest in the gas tax law, Eckstrom wanted to also produce a separate report highlighting just the disbursements from the additional tax revenue generated by the new law.

Tthe new law included no funds for tracking or transparency efforts.

“The Comptroller’s Office’s existing budget is absorbing the entire costs of the project, which means my staff and I are working to devise a low-cost way to use technology to collect and publish this information and to present it in a way that’s useful and informative to the average citizen,” Eckstrom said.

In 2008 Eckstrom unveiled the state’s Fiscal Transparency Website, which provides monthly itemized check registers of spending by each state agency. Although other states followed suit with online check registers, South Carolina is believed to be the only one to accomplish such an initiative with no additional funding and with no legislation requiring it.

The gas tax spending transparency project is the latest expansion of the statewide initiative.

“Transparency promotes efficiency and accountability, and it fosters public trust,” Eckstrom said. “Hopefully, this added public oversight will help ensure that the increased taxes and fees being imposed on us will be used to fix and maintain our roads, as those who authorized the increases told us they’d be.”