City council agrees to reconsider funds allocation

Published 11:24 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A decision made at a previous City Council meeting was contested by council member Leavern Guy at Tuesday night’s meeting.

At the March 24, meeting of the Picayune City Council, members approved a motion to pool all the money received in STP, stimulus and bond money, to conduct road work and distribute it evenly among the districts. About $378,000 was allocated to the city to conduct work on Palestine Road, North Beech Street and North Main Street in stimulus money. There is also about $352,000 in bond money and another $419,000 of uncommitted funds. That money was set to do road work in various other parts of the city. The council’s decision at the March 24, meeting involved any streets to be paved by the allocated stimulus funds to be credited to the respective council person’s district, and the remaining funds would be split among the remaining council districts.

Council member Leavern Guy was not present at that meeting.

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At Tuesday’s meeting, Guy brought his lawyer and was prepared to contest the council’s action at the March 24 meeting. Guy said that the council took inappropriate action at that meeting, citing a lack of a motion to rescind a previous decision before making the new decision. Guy said that the action taken by the council at that previous meeting should have involved those members who were absent.

The council asked City Attorney Nathan Farmer for an opinion on the matter. He said the council is the master of the minutes and if there is a conflict on decisions, then generally the most recent decision would rule. However, if the council asked he could research the matter further and come back to them with an opinion.

Guy pressed on saying the council could continue the conversation or they could sit down and work the issue out. If the council decides not to sit down and work it out, Guy said he was prepared to challenge the council’s recent decision based on lack of proper procedures.

After some more discussion, Mayor Greg Mitchell said he had second thoughts about the council’s decision at the March 24, meeting. He suggested the council revisit the minutes from the original decision that Guy referred to and find out what the original intent for the bond money was to be so they can move forward with the paving.

“Your term’s gonna be up and you’re not going to get the projects done that you wanted to,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell asked a council member to make a motion to table the matter, which was done and the motion was approved with Guy declining to vote.

Three various groups approached the council to ask for money for their various causes. The first was Samantha Thrasher. She told the council she is running for a national office with the Future Business Leaders of America. She is a candidate for secretary and she said if she wins, it will be the first time a person from Picayune has been in national office in the FBLA. She requested funds from the council to help with her campaign. The council approved a motion to donate $200 to her cause.

Nancy Hall spoke to the council on behalf of her daughter, Julie. Hall said her daughter was Picayune’s Junior Miss in 2007, recently won Miss Gulf Coast and is now in college. Since her daughter is planning to attend law school, she is looking for scholarships and needs to raise money to purchase an ad. Council member Jerry Bounds made the motion to donate $300 so Hall’s daughter can purchase a full page ad in the program book of the Miss Mississippi pageant. That motion was approved.

The last group was the Pearl River Robotics team, Team CHAOS. Bret Bossier and Lane Balch spoke to the council, telling members how Team CHAOS made it to the finals in two regional competitions, the Bayou Regional in New Orleans and the Lonestar Regional in Houston. Balch said the announcer at both competitions referred to their team as the “Cinderella story of Picayune.” While the team lost in the finals of the Bayou Regional, the team was able to win in the finals at the Lonestar Regional. For the first time Team CHAOS has the opportunity to compete in the world championship, but they need money to do it. Council member Anna Turnage made a motion to donate $200 to the team, which was approved.

The council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter and a compromise of a disputed claim. No action was taken on the contractual matter. The disputed claim dealt with bills, one of which was adjusted and the other was set to the base rate due to a broken water meter.

In other business the council;

— Authorized the Fire Department to apply for Fireman’s Fund grant funds to purchase three thermal imaging cameras.

— Approved for the Police Department to conduct background and sexual predator checks for Habitat for Humanity for potential homeowners of the program.

— Approve advertising for bids for the Downtown Revitalization Project.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be April 21 at 6 p.m.