Hattiesburg council approves changes to mayor's budgetary authority

Hattiesburg council approves changes to mayor's budgetary authority

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council stripped Mayor Johnny DuPree of several major budgetary authorities Tuesday night by amending a decades-old ordinance.A 4-1 vote, with Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado being the only dissenting vote, amended the city's HAVPAY ordinance, which allowed the mayor to make changes to the budget, employee positions and vacancies and other items without council approval.

With the passage of these amendments, the council will now have to give the mayor approval to reallocate money from vacant positions, create or abolish a position and give merit pay increases.

, DuPree said he had not overstepped his boundaries with his budgeting powers and encouraged the council to table the vote in order to further discuss the amendments with him. Delgado said the amendments seemed to come as a reaction to a recent $5,000 pay increase for Hattiesburg Policemen, which some council members said Monday they did not realize each policeman received until Monday's meeting.

Ward 3 Councilman Carter Carroll said there was no specific incident that brought this matter up for a vote, and it's something council members have been working on for years.

"We actually have been talking about this for the last three years, and it's just been a work in progress, and now is the proper time to do it, especially when the mayor brought up for us to come up with a new way of paying the employees, giving them raises, so this was perfect timing," explained Carroll.

When asked if trustworthiness of the mayor's actions regarding the budgets was a factor, Carroll said he would leave it up to the people of Hattiesburg to decide.

The mayor can veto this measure within 10 days, and the council can override his veto with a 4-1 vote if all council members are present.

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

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