City council battles misconceptions in school deals

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - As the Hattiesburg School District considers what legal steps, if any, to take against the city council, some folks are concerned as to why the council would deny the district's recent request for a funding increase through a property tax.

"It's almost like I know what's best for you, you don't know what's best for you I know what's best for you, you don't understand," said community advocate Rev. Arthur Siggers, who went before the Council Monday night with several concerns, mainly why a three to two vote put a stop to any additional funding to public education.

"You can't expect to progress in an area that you don't fund," said Siggers.

Council president Kim Bradley says he respects and understands those type of concerns but says there's a misconception, and now isn't the time to raise anyone's taxes.

"It was not a cut. We were just asking them to stay at the same level that the tax payers paid last year, that's all we were asking," said Bradley.

Concerns were also raised with the recent deal involving Sacred Heart, a private school, to move into a city owned building.

The city bought the West Pine Street building, as well as several other parcels of land for $3 million, but wound up selling just the building to Sacred Heart for $2.5 million, a negotiation set up by Mayor Johnny DuPree. The council approved it and since then Bradley says there's been another misconception, that the city is putting private education, rather than public, as the priority

"All we did was sell them the building. We didn't give them any money, we didn't give them anything that they didn't pay for, to my knowledge," said Bradley.

The city is currently owner financing the building and Bradley says that's it.

"So there were bonds that were sold that Sacred Heart is paying and essentially we are out of the picture," said Bradley.

A picture Siggers says is a blurry one.

"They say they're looking out for the best interest for the community obviously they're not in tune and in touch," said Siggers.

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