Sources reveal destinations of county spending

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, September 25, 2011

Political observers and newspapercolumnists in recent days have been trumpeting a new website thatallows those with Internet access to easily see where their countygovernments are spending taxpayer dollars. is a great new tool provided by the MississippiCenter for Public Policy to help citizens keep better track oftheir government. Virtually anyone can now go online to see that, for example,Lincoln County supervisors during the last fiscal year spent$255,270.01 on culverts.

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    For county records at least, gone is the hassle of traveling to thecourthouse, filling out public records requests and then waitingfor the information to be provided. It should be pointed out,however, new legislation requires all public bodies – not justcounties – to provide that information within seven working daysinstead of the previous 14-day time period.

    As has been pointed out previously, city and school districtspending data is not on the website. And not all 82 Mississippicounties are participating – 19 have not sent their information tothe MCPP.

    The new website provides yearly totals for the last six fiscalyears.

    Anyone interested in seeing recent monthly totals needs to findanother source. For that, the value of the newspaper comes intoplay.

    Every month, newspapers publish their respective county’s docket ofclaims. Readers can see where dollars were spent as quickly as onemonth after the expenditure.

    Many people may not care who received a few bucks for serving on ajury last month or even last year. However, the important pointhere is the information is available to everyone.

    The mere fact that county spending information is available on awebsite and published in a newspaper will not by itself createbetter government. But having the information readily visible couldlead to better citizen involvement and questions that can bringabout improvements in the ways our elected officials conduct publicbusiness.

    It’s your taxpayer dollars being spent, so check and watch for the county’s docket of claims inthis newspaper. See for yourself where the money is going.