Council members argue over appointment

Published 5:20 pm Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The appointment of a housing authority board member started a heated debate between council members.

On Tuesday’s council agenda was listed the need to appoint a new member to the Picayune Housing Authority to replace a retiring member, Pearl Ducré.

Council members accepted the resignation in a separate motion and then council member Larry Watkins made a motion to appoint Lynnn Stockstill. Council member Leavern Guy said he was not ready to take the matter into consideration and asked that the matter be tabled.

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Council members then began to discuss the matter and whether the proper procedure was being followed, asking for board attorney Nathan Farmer’s opinion. Farmer said that it appeared to him that a motion was made to appoint a new member to the board, which was properly seconded by council member Anna Turnage.

Mayor Greg Mitchell said this is the second time that a similar situation has taken place in the last couple of months where an appointment was made without proper discussion by the council.

“The precedence has been set by those two,” council member Jerry Bounds said.

Turnage pointed out that the agenda read that an appointment would take place at the meeting. Watkins said if the council was not following the proper procedure then the request to appoint a member to the board should not have been on the agenda.

The council then passed the motion on a vote on of three to two, with Bounds, Turnage and Watkins voting for the appointment and Guy and Mitchell voting against it. Council member Donald Parker was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Continuing the heated discussion held at the last meeting, Picayune Memorial High School Navy JROTC Chief Mark Thorman shared his opinion and frustration that the topic of utility losses reported in the 2006 budget was not handled by the city years ago with a press release. He also asked if the numbers listed in a previous letter to the editor printed in the Picayune Item concerning the matter were factual. If they are and there is a problem, then someone needs to be held accountable, Thorman said.

Then he asked why there is not a public addressing system installed in the council chambers and why the meetings were not recorded.

Mitchell said the council is working on getting a PA system.

The council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter concerning phase II of Memorial Boulevard and downtown revitalization. The council decided after the executive session to award the contract for engineering services for both projects to Neel-Schaffer, Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said.

In other business the council;

— Accepted a grant award of $2,386,432 to complete construction of the new fire station.

— Awarded the bid for construction of the new fire station to Reflectech Inc., for $1,697,400.

— Approved advertising for the construction of a new access road to the new fire station.

— Approved closure of a portion of Williams Avenue at the intersection of Williams and Main Street.

— Approved a Police Department request to lease/purchase two fully equipped Dodge Chargers.

The board recessed until 4 p.m. July 21, for a budget workshop.