Board of Supervisors debates audit legality

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sheriff Allison speaks with the Board of Supervisors Tuesday about approving the purchase of a new tag reader.  Photo by Julia Arenstam

Sheriff Allison speaks with the Board of Supervisors Tuesday about approving the purchase of a new tag reader.
Photo by Julia Arenstam

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors met yesterday to discuss key issues concerning road maintenance, concerns about rate increases by the Pearl River County Utility Authority, the new Liberty Road Park, and to debate auditing records in the Chancery Clerk’s office.

County Engineer Les Dungan spoke at the Board meeting about ongoing projects with state aid roads as well as upcoming projects for county roads. The county approved a motion to partner with the Emergency Watershed Protection program for assistance with strengthening sites where erosion has occurred. The agreement with EWP states that there will be an 80 percent cost coverage by the company, and 20 percent match by the county.

“The size and extent of the work being done does justify using the money that’s been made available,” said Dungan.

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Dungan also said the Liberty Road Waterpark project is almost complete. The county plans to schedule a ribbon cutting ceremony soon.

Dungan and the county road department are working on a comprehensive road plan for the roughly 860 miles of county maintained roads. The county currently operates on a 12 to 20 year rotation for road maintenance.

“We are behind and getting further behind every year with maintaining these roads,” said Dungan.

He said materials for road maintenance could cost upwards of a million dollars a year.

Board President Sandy Kane Smith said the county has been receiving complaints from residents who have seen state aid used to fund road maintenance, while other county roads are still in need of repair.

Maintenance of 150 miles of road in the county is funded by the state, but the work is conducted by the county, Dungan said.

The remaining 860 miles of county roadway is not eligible for state aid so that maintenance is funded by local taxes, said Dungan.

No motions were made concerning county roadways.

In a separate matter, Board Vice President Hudson Holliday asked the audience if anyone in the room had written an anonymous letter to the state accusing the Board of wrongdoing concerning the contract for the demolition of the Movie Star building.

The contract was awarded to Double H Contracting, LLC on May 21, 2014.

The Board refuted accusations that awarding of the contract had not been transparent.

“It’s all in the minutes,” said Lumpkin.

When no one came forward to claim authorship of the anonymous letter to the state, Holliday called them “yellow-belly cowards” and said, “You’re not going to question my integrity.”

Debate between two board members arose during discussion of approving a motion to hire an outside auditor to look into Chancery Clerk files from the office’s previous administration.

There are opinion letters circulating about whether a county has the authority to hire a private company to conduct an audit, said County Administrator Adrian Lumpkin.

Board of Supervisors Attorney, Joe Montgomery, was absent from the Board meeting due to medical reasons.

Montgomery had recommended that the Board send a letter he drafted to the Attorney General asking for a formal opinion on the matter, said Smith.

“I’ve never seen us argue this much about $10,000 rather than $10 million,” said District 2 Supervisor Malcolm Perry.

Perry and Holliday disagreed with each other concerning measures to be taken.

“I’m not going to spend $10,000 on a witch hunt,” said Holliday.

Perry made a motion to move forward and proceed with the audit; Smith seconded the motion. However, when the matter was called for a vote, Holiday, District I Supervisor Donald Hart and District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller voted against it.  It was defeated in a 2-3 vote.

“I’m not against the audit, but I want it to be done the right way,” said Moeller.

Hart made a motion request a formal opinion from the Attorney General. Moeller seconded the motion. It was passed in a 3-2 vote, with Hard, Moeller and Holliday voting for it.

Rising costs for trash disposal at Waste Management’s Central Landfill was also discussed.

“I think Waste Management does a good job, but they went up 50 percent in one lick,” said Holliday. “They never justified that.”

Perry said that under a previous contract with Waste Management, there was no service charge for a resident to bring their waste to the landfill.

“Truckloads would show up and they couldn’t charge them,” said Perry. “If they move out of here then we the county have the responsibility to furnish a landfill.”

Smith also expressed issues with rising rates from the Utility Authority and how he would like to replace some of the members on that Board.

“We have Board members on there and we need people that are going to represent the people,” said Smith.

Smith recommended that the Board ask members of the Utility Authority and Waste Management to attend a meeting to discuss those issues.


In other business, the Board:

  • Approved a request from Sheriff David Allison to purchase a $21,000 tag reader. Allison said cash recently seized by the Sheriff’s Department would fund the purchase.
  • Approved a request from Allison to cover an increase in dental are for county inmates. Previous agreements with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s department and a dental company were only verbal and never written. As a result, the dental company has increased their charges and the department has been paying more than previous years for inmates’ dental bills. Lumpkin recommended that the county pay the difference in cost.
  • Acknowledged Monday, July 4 as state holiday
  • Approved Picayune school leases
  • Awarded and authorized execution of lease finance agreement for five 2017 Western Star dump trucks and one 2016 Ford F-150.
  • Authorized travel for dispatcher to re-certification course in Biloxi July 11-12 and two members of the Sheriff’s office to Mississippi polygraph examiners seminar in Pearl Aug. 9-11.
  • Approved seeing an appraisal for the county property off Highway 11 in Carriere, the former office of the superintendent.

About Julia Arenstam

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