State law very clear on use of tax dollars

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 27, 2000

Mississippi law is clear — public funds may not be spent toimprove or upkeep private property.

Unfortunately, at least one member of the Lincoln County Boardof Supervisors appears to be having a hard time understandingthat.

The supervisors have been operating under the beat system forless than two months, and already the topic of doing work onprivate driveways has reared its ugly head.

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The subject was broached at the Monday meeting by Beat 2Supervisor Bobby J. Watts, who wanted the county to help provide aprivate driveway for a blind man. We don’t fault Mr. Watts fortrying to help this needy individual, but the law is clear –public funds may not be spent to improve or upkeep privateproperty.

The fact that Mr. Watts would even bring up this issue should betroubling to all Lincoln County taxpayers. Also disturbing are thereactions of some other supervisors, who suggested that such workbe done “quietly.”

No. It should not be done at all.

Even more disturbing to taxpayers should be Watts’ indicationthat gravel can be given in exchange for political backing.

One way private property work prohibitions have been sidesteppedby county boards in the past has been through school busturnarounds. Under certain procedures and guidelines, a county maydo work on private property to do maintenance on a school busturnaround.

Emphasis should be placed on maintenance and not construction ofschool bus turnarounds. Watts suggested some lost politicalopportunities when he was reminded that supervisors cannot randomlyconstruct school bus turnarounds.

“There goes the votes,” Watts said.

Lincoln County taxpayers should put their supervisors on noticeright now:

* Notice that misuse of public funds will not be tolerated.

* Notice that a “free” load of gravel is not free — it’s paidfor with taxpayer dollars.

* Notice that it is not fair for a few citizens to benefit atthe expense of taxpayers.

* Notice that any evidence of county employees doing work onprivate property will be reported to the state auditor’s office andto this newspaper.

* Notice, once again, that what Mississippi law mandates –public funds may not be spent to improve or upkeep private property– must be followed in Lincoln County.

* Notice that Lincoln Countians not only expect — but theydemand — a county board that will follow all state laws.