September 21, 2011 12:48:00 PM
Last week, Mississippi's Center for Public Policy launched a website offering easy access to how local tax dollars are spent.
In a state where local governing bodies seem to have a cloudy view of sunshine laws, the site -- seethespending.org -- is a huge step forward.
Visitors to the site can look at the revenues and expenditures for the state of Mississippi, as well as spending for individual counties, from the privacy and comfort of their own homes.
So what's missing?
In the Golden Triangle, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties are.
Clay County's expenditures are listed line by line, from legal fees to bridge and road projects and carpet care.
As are the expenditures of 62 more of Mississippi's 82 counties.
We wonder why Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties haven't yet jumped on this opportunity to be more open to the public whose dollars they are responsible for.
Lowndes and Oktibbeha are among the 19 counties listed at the site that have yet to provide their financial records to the Center for Public Policy.
Lowndes officials say they are working with the Center for Public Policy and expect their expenditures to be listed at the site soon, which is encouraging, though we'd like to see them -- and all of Mississippi's counties -- listed soon rather than later.
Oktibbeha County officials were scheduled to be on a conference call with various other counties this morning to discuss how to make that information available electronically to the center.
Lowndes County recently passed a $38 million budget. Oktibbeha passed a $30.79 million budget.
In Lowndes County in particular, officials toot their own horn for being fiscally responsible. This site offers them an opportunity to show that in black and white, not just talk about it at board meetings.
Meanwhile, we'll be waiting anxiously as the Center for Public Policy continues to build its new website.
Already in the works are plans to add searchable databases of county revenues.
Also coming soon is school district spending.
While boards can amend their budgets throughout the fiscal year, this site certainly offers a great opportunity to get a glimpse of how our elected officials are spending our tax dollars.
This is such a good idea we wonder why someone didn't think of it sooner.
hope commented at 9/21/2011 1:11:00 PM:
As Anderson Cooper says;keeping them honest!
1. Our View: School funding petition worthy of support DISPATCH EDITORIALS
3. Our View: Oktibbeha, Starkville boards fail to truly follow agendas DISPATCH EDITORIALS
4. Voice of the people: Robin Thompson LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)