County spending put online - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

County spending put online

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Want to see how much your county supervisors spend on travel and who got paid with your money? We'll now you can and all you have to do is log on.

"In essence we are posting the counties checkbook registers for the people to be able to see exactly how their local tax money is being spent," said Forest Thigpen.

Spending in 62 of the state's 82 counties can now be tracked thanks to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. The non-profit launched a Web site, seethespending.org, last year to track state agency spending and has now added counties to the mix.

"We have data on the site for the past six years which show who was paid, how much and for what," said Thigpen.

Thigpen says the financial information was obtained through public records requests and provides a one stop shop not just for folks wanting to track spending but also as a resource for those who spend the money.

"This site is not intended to simply be a gotcha site. They'll be able to learn wether other counties are providing core services at a lower cost," said Thigpen.

Of the 20 counties not yet part of the system, 19 claim some type of technical problems in providing the information. Meanwhile, only one, Hinds County, hasn't even responded to the center's request for information.

As the state's most populated county, Thigpen says that's a concern.

"While most other counties have recognized the people's money is the people's business, Hinds County has so far said what we do with your money is none of your business," said Thigpen.

For State Auditor Stacey Pickering it raises a red flag.

"As the auditor it raises some real questions from an investigative standpoint of what is it that they're trying to hide," said Pickering.

The center plans to file a complaint against Hinds County and any other which doesn't comply with the law. In the meantime, folks can search the site and find out just where their money is going.

"Transparency and sunshine is the best thing in the world to prevent corruption, the crony system and the good ole boy system," said Pickering. "This is a good thing for the taxpayers and for us as elected officials."

Tuesday afternoon, Hinds County Chancery Clerk Eddie Jean Carr said the county does not have a problem with providing the information and will comply with the request.

Carr also said the board attorney would be meeting the center.

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