Council improperly moves contractual matter to executive session

Published 9:24 am Friday, August 5, 2022

Tuesday night, Picayune’s City Council went into closed session to discuss the need for an executive session concerning a contractual matter for waste pickup, which is not an applicable reason to go into executive session under the open meetings act.

Also listed on the executive session for discussion was a personnel matter. While personnel matters qualify as items that can be discussed in executive session, contractual matters do not qualify.

Mississippi Code 25-41-7 lists several reasons why a city or county government can enter executive session, but does not list contractual matters as a valid matter to be discussed in executive session.

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When the Item asked city attorney Nathan Farmer about the Council moving the contractual matter to closed session for consideration of discussion during executive session, he said that the Council never went into executive session Tuesday night. Instead the Council determined there was no need to go into executive session, on either matter listed, and after reentering open session the Council adjourned without making any motions. 

The contractual matter concerned a bid for waste pickup in the city submitted by Coastal Environmental. The agenda listed Coastal Environmental as the lowest and best bid, and the action requested on the agenda was for the Council to approve the bid.

After Councilor Larry Breland rescinded his motion to approve the bid, the Council approved a motion to take the bid under advisement as per Farmer’s recommendation and moved it to executive session.

Farmer said he expects the matter to be discussed further at a subsequent meeting in open session.

In other business, the Council also approved a motion to donate an old patrol vehicle from the Picayune Police Department to the Whitesburg Police Department in East Kentucky. That state has been severely affected by recent flood waters that caused deaths and loss of property. Due to that flooding, the Whitesburg Police Department lost seven patrol vehicles. James Drewery with the Picayune Police Department told the Council that the Whitesburg Police Department serves a community of about 2,000 residents, so the loss of seven vehicles was devastating. Thursday morning, the Picayune Police Department loaded the 2011 Dodge Charger being donated on a trailer and brought it to Whitesburg.