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.

Cases: 471092

Reported Deaths: 9165
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32160471
Hinds30628574
DeSoto29693344
Jackson23098335
Rankin21062357
Lee14515218
Madison13993264
Jones13112218
Forrest12926231
Lauderdale11301294
Lowndes10206171
Lamar10017125
Pearl River8616208
Lafayette8052136
Hancock7172111
Washington6816146
Oktibbeha6799117
Neshoba6377201
Monroe6343158
Warren6310159
Pontotoc607692
Panola6056123
Bolivar5991143
Marshall5948116
Union562385
Pike5450133
Lincoln5217129
Alcorn516288
George456466
Scott450392
Leflore4392140
Prentiss435275
Itawamba433295
Tippah432480
Simpson4251110
Copiah424784
Wayne422363
Tate4202100
Adams4184110
Yazoo412486
Sunflower4077104
Covington406591
Marion4016100
Leake390485
Coahoma387098
Newton361674
Grenada3511100
Stone343757
Tishomingo323788
Attala319685
Jasper309562
Winston299191
Clay286172
Chickasaw280564
Clarke275587
Calhoun258539
Holmes258585
Smith242246
Yalobusha216447
Tallahatchie214949
Walthall204657
Lawrence203231
Greene202645
Perry195753
Webster191642
Amite191451
Noxubee174438
Montgomery169453
Jefferson Davis164341
Carroll159437
Tunica147634
Benton138232
Kemper136939
Claiborne125534
Choctaw124424
Humphreys123037
Franklin114327
Quitman101425
Wilkinson98435
Jefferson86332
Sharkey61720
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 761865

Reported Deaths: 12856
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1087131712
Mobile696141168
Madison47959565
Baldwin35517431
Shelby34948283
Tuscaloosa32719498
Montgomery32358648
Lee21708200
Calhoun19823367
Morgan19140308
Etowah18450414
Marshall17138255
Houston15970340
St. Clair14803270
Limestone13986179
Elmore13893240
Cullman13892229
Lauderdale12986264
Talladega12235203
DeKalb11788220
Walker10110304
Autauga9416120
Blount9329149
Jackson9026132
Coffee8598153
Colbert8257160
Dale8204143
Escambia639399
Tallapoosa6315165
Covington6265153
Chilton6188128
Russell588353
Franklin560093
Chambers5182127
Dallas4595174
Marion4540114
Clarke447871
Pike441488
Geneva419499
Winston402682
Lawrence4018101
Bibb392976
Barbour335567
Marengo318878
Monroe308244
Butler307679
Pickens297366
Henry290752
Randolph290055
Hale284081
Cherokee277249
Fayette269769
Washington242244
Crenshaw229463
Clay220261
Macon212554
Cleburne207346
Lamar185538
Conecuh175237
Lowndes168156
Coosa161531
Wilcox153533
Bullock146242
Perry133132
Sumter122735
Greene118241
Choctaw71925
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