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Report questions spending in Mississippi Gulf Coast county

Mississippi's second most-populous county is under scrutiny by a legislative committee for how it spends money.

Posted: Jan 22, 2018 9:35 PM

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's second most-populous county is under scrutiny by a legislative committee for how it spends money.

The report was issued Monday by the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review. It said Harrison County supervisors illegally spent road and bridge money on park facilities and spent public money on alcohol. It also questions whether individual supervisors should get to spend from accounts earmarked for their individual districts.

Harrison County Attorney Tim Holleman told the Clarion Ledger that many concerns raised are the fault of clerks or assistants who improperly recorded meeting minutes or expenses. He said supervisors will repay any questioned travel reimbursements. He called the problems "minor issues."

The committee questioned the use of road project money for splash pads, ballpark maintenance and boat launches, saying state law and attorney general opinions say such spending is limited to roads and bridges. The report listed 51 recreation projects between 2015 and 2017 that involved recreation projects funded with money from the road budget.

It criticizes travel reimbursements for county supervisors, citing 33 instances over three years when reimbursements were issued that didn't comply with state law or county travel policies. The report found poor record-keeping meant examiners couldn't be sure supervisors weren't spending for personal items, and at least some expenses that had supposedly been prepaid or which included alcohol or other prohibited items.

The report also suggests the Legislature pass a law limiting spending on advertising by counties. The county Board of Supervisors spent about $100,000 a year the past two years on advertising, including event programs, banners, signs, T-shirts and sports jerseys.

"Why would we spend money to advertise county resources to people in the county?" said supervisor Marlin Ladner, who has opposed such spending. "They're already here. They know it."

The report questioned the Gulf Coast county's operation of road maintenance facilities in each supervisor's district, saying the county is supposed to be operating a unified system and that a central maintenance facility would be more efficient.

Finally, the report found that Harrison County supervisors sometimes meet behind closed doors without following state guidelines. PEER said the county should consult with the Ethics Commission on how to tell the public of the reasons for going into executive session.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16041

Reported Deaths: 767
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds103526
Lauderdale74568
Madison74525
Neshoba70742
Jones66331
Scott66112
Forrest59439
DeSoto5538
Leake44712
Rankin4468
Holmes43928
Copiah3154
Jackson30813
Attala30318
Yazoo2864
Newton2824
Leflore27334
Lincoln27029
Monroe26525
Harrison2637
Oktibbeha25314
Lamar2485
Lowndes2309
Wayne2242
Pearl River21131
Pike20411
Adams20015
Noxubee1916
Washington1917
Warren18110
Covington1732
Jasper1654
Lee1657
Bolivar16511
Clarke15419
Smith15311
Kemper14711
Lafayette1414
Chickasaw13714
Coahoma1274
Winston1211
Marion1179
Carroll11711
Clay1154
Claiborne1122
Lawrence1061
Simpson1020
Grenada993
Yalobusha966
Tate951
Hancock9112
Itawamba897
Wilkinson859
Union857
Sunflower853
Montgomery851
Panola843
Marshall813
Jefferson Davis803
Tippah7611
Webster683
Calhoun674
Amite641
Walthall610
Humphreys597
Tunica563
Prentiss563
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc433
Jefferson431
Tishomingo340
Quitman340
Stone310
Franklin292
Tallahatchie291
George261
Greene221
Alcorn181
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18474

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2283118
Jefferson1882103
Montgomery180243
Tuscaloosa81616
Marshall7059
Franklin5768
Lee55234
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43166
Butler41618
Walker3782
Elmore3739
Chambers35826
Madison3444
Morgan2971
Baldwin2929
Unassigned2922
Dallas2823
Etowah26112
DeKalb2563
Lowndes25512
Autauga2395
Coffee2381
Sumter2267
Houston2235
Bullock2136
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1789
Russell1770
Barbour1751
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1672
Calhoun1653
Choctaw15310
Wilcox1527
Cullman1501
Clarke1482
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1041
Greene954
Winston910
Macon864
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia743
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe442
Geneva430
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
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