City takes good care of public ‘beef’

Published 12:13 am Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eighteenth century British author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson took a jab at accounting once when he was famously quoted as saying:

“Keeping accounts, sir, is of no use when a man is spending his own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won’t eat less beef today, because you have written down what it cost yesterday.”

But what Johnson glossed over is the importance of being accountable when the money being spent is not your own.

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The City of Natchez proved the value of that again last week after having received good marks again on the city’s annual financial audit.

The document showed no findings or serious problems. If it were a report card, it would have been filled with A marks.

Fortunately, such clean audits have become the standard for the city. Such a track record is a model for other forms of government to follow. And Natchez has earned clean audits for several years.

That’s comforting for city residents who can rest assured that within the bounds of accounting principles, city leaders are managing the public funds well.

For a few years, county taxpayers have seen what can happen when bad bookkeeping wreaks havoc on a county office by mismanaging public funds. That’s what occurred with the county’s circuit clerk and ultimately led to his indictment.

It’s comforting to know the city’s leadership — from the mayor and board of aldermen down to the city clerk and all the department heads — works hard to worry about the public “beef” and keep track of where all of it goes.