Columbia board meeting gets heated

The Columbia Board of Aldermen had a late night in Tuesday's board meeting.
The Columbia Board of Aldermen had a late night in Tuesday's board meeting.

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - The Columbia Board of Aldermen had a late night in Tuesday's board meeting.

Sixteen counter-proposals were brought to the floor by Alderwoman Gwen Hammond in Tuesday's five-and-a-half hour-long meeting. This was in response to Mayor Robert Bourne's proposals that came after the city's audit, which reviewed city workers and departments for efficiencies. The mayor's proposals were approved by the board and made few changes and caused no loss of jobs.

Hammond proposed terminations of police receptionist Betty Harkey, city clerk Donna McKenzie as well as the removal of the public works position.

"Those duties [public works] can be tasked out to Mr. Lonnie and our city clerk," proposed Hammond. "We don't need a public works person."

"And how do you know that," asked Mayor Bourne.

"Because I said," responded Hammond.

Hammond and Alderwoman Renee' Galloway also fought to have one employee, who was recently transferred to work with the court, moved back to the police department.

Mayor Bourne refused this request, saying the employee was moved in order to restore the finances of the court, which is in a $4 million deficit.

"The decision has been made," said Mayor Bourne.

After Hammond's counter-proposals were presented to the board, Galloway read off concerns from her constituents that she says align with Hammond's proposals.

"We have too many police, too young, from too far away, to have a stable police department," she read verbatim. "The city clerk should have a degree in accounting, or at least a B. S. degree. The current employee does not have these essential requirements and should be terminated."

She continued with concerns about the police chief.

"Terminate the police," she read off her notes. "He does not have the personality for the job. He does not have the leadership skills for the job."

Of the few votes cast regarding the counter-proposals, the mayor vetoed the decisions, which is in his power.

"Y'all can do what you want to about a lot of other things, but that won't change the law," he said. "I am the mayor, and I intend to be the mayor for the next four years."

The board will meet on October 15 to vote on the proposals.

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