Proposed amendment could strip Hattiesburg mayor of budgeting powers

Proposed amendment could strip Hattiesburg mayor of budgeting powers

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A proposed amendment to a City of Hattiesburg ordinance would require city council oversight on several actions the mayor takes regarding the city's budget.

Ward 3 Councilman Carter Carroll said the ordinance that was passed in the mid-90s is "antiquated and out of date."

The ordinance, as it stands, allows the mayor to create and abolish positions without council approval. It also allows him to reallocate funds from vacant or abolished positions without council approval so long as the changes are within the existing salary range.

However, the proposed amendments would not allow Mayor Johnny DuPree- or future administrations- to make those and other changes without first coming before the council.

"Section three actually takes most my authority away from me," said DuPree at Monday's agenda setting.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said the proposed amendments "seem to be a reaction" to budget changes that have happened recently, such as a $5,000 pay raise for each member of the Hattiesburg Police Department. According to HPD Major Hardy Sims, each member received that raise, which based on council discussion was made available through salaries from vacant positions.

"If you have this kind of process," said Delgado of the potential amended ordinance, "then that kind of creativity is going to be hampered. I have a problem with that."

DuPree defended his budgeting decisions and encouraged the council to further review the proposed amendments instead of voting on them Tuesday as scheduled.

"I've not overstepped my boundaries with the budget," he said. "I've played within my boundaries, but within the process, I believe we've tried to take care of the people who deserve to be taken care of."

To see the amendments to the ordinance, click here. All amendments are in red text.