Hernando tries crowd-sourcing to fix parks

HERNANDO, Miss. — Robert Foster says higher taxes are drowning him.

”It’s like we’re all in the deep end of the pool and we’re all treading water and we’ve got the lawyers standing on one shoulder, the insurance companies on the other shoulder, and the government with their feet on our head, and they’re all pushing us,” he said.

He says so many others felt the same way, they all voted against Hernando sales tax plan to raise money for park improvements.

Lots of people seem to agree that Hernando could stand to spend a little money on its parks and ball fields. The disagreement comes in how much, and where it’s going to come from.

Since losing the vote, Mayor Chip Johnson has taken an idea from the internet.

”I think we might be crowd-sourcing,” said Johnson.

He’s made a list of price tags for improvements, and letting citizens take the lead.

”The group that wants a skateboard park, they’re raising the money for that,” he said. “The dog park, people are raising their own money for the dog park. The friends of soccer have raised enough money to irrigate the first three fields at our new soccer complex.”

Even Foster says he supports park improvements, he’d just rather see the money come from budget cuts.

He says the bait-and-switch he’s seen in other cities makes him wary of tax schemes.

”They don’t use the money the way they’re supposed to use the money,” he said. “They always find loopholes they always circumvent the public. If they get a tax increase, it’s forever.”

That’s why Johnson says he wants Hernando’s finances to remain an open book.

”I want everybody to know we are here, we are accessible, our budget’s an open book and we want everybody to look at it and give us some input. You know, we are not smarter than the people of Hernando,” he said.

He hopes to get more ideas at the city’s budget hearing on September 2.



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