Mississippi’s PEER system a model of fiscal responsibility

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Once again a state watchdog committee has proven its worth by finding $696,364 which can be trimmed from Mississippi’s regional prison system.

The report released this week from PEER – the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review – showed a variety of ways the state can save money by cutting out unnecessary expenses.

PEER’s latest report suggests cutting fees for attorneys, sheriffs and consultants which it deems are largely unnecessary.

The fees are obviously excess waste.

For example, the report showed $138,502 was paid to sheriffs for regional jail operations.

The fees, legal but largely unnecessary, went to sheriffs in counties that are home to regional jails. Currently up to $15,600 per year can be paid to the local sheriffs as chief corrections officers of the facility. PEER committee members suggested simply designating the jail wardens as chief corrections officers and saving the fees.

This suggestion, and others included in the report, makes sense.

PEER has proven to be an excellent way to give state government a tune-up and keep it running smoothly and efficiently.

We hope the Legislature keeps the PEER committee going in years to come.

And we suggest our local elected officials take the lessons learned from PEER and scrutinize our local spending.

The City of Natchez, Adams County and their counterparts across the river are gearing up to prepare next year’s budgets.

Now is the time to begin creating a process similar to the state’s PEER process.

And in the end, we’ll all win.