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Jackson County plans to comply to public records' request (Updated 1:15 p.m.)

PASCAGOULA -- Jackson County supervisors did not vote this morning on whether to allow the county to delivers six years of the county's spending records to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that wants to publish the information on its website SeeTheSpending.org.

But Supervisor Manly Barton said the board plans to allow the information to be delivered in a form the center can use.

Most counties in Mississippi have complied with the center's records request.

Jackson County has put off the center for at least a year, Board President Melton Harris said this morning.

"We've been wrestling with this issue for over a year now," Harris said to the rest of the board. "We seem to be one of the last counties to comply."

Harris said that doesn't look good for Jackson County.

Harris brought up the matter for a vote today, after making sure that none of the information the center requested contained sensitive information about employees.It appeared the supervisors might vote, but then they decided that before giving the information to the center in a form it requested, the county should come up with a policy on how it will charge for meeting public records requests in the future.

In this case, the center set up a way in which the county could deliver the information without any cost. All the county would have to do is sign a letter allowing the county software vendor to send it.

The information the center wants is essentially the county's check register, so people can see what supervisors have voted to spend money on.

Some of the supervisors have said they were concerned that if they deliver the information in the way the center requested, it would somehow give the center access to the county computer system.

Harris' investigation showed that was not the case. Harrison County has the same software vendor and it has complied without risk.

Supervisor Manly Barton said, "We should give them what they ask for."

Supervisors discussed what to charge for providing data in the future and decided they should come up with a policy before complying with state open records laws and transferring the information to the center.

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