Hattiesburg City Council overrides Mayor DuPree's veto on HAVPAY ordinance

Hattiesburg City Council overrides Mayor DuPree's veto on HAVPAY ordinance
Hattiesburg City Council overrides mayor's veto

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Monday special called meeting by Hattiesburg City Council ended with the council overriding the mayor's veto.

The council voted 4-1 to override Mayor Johnny DuPree's veto of an amended HAVPAY ordinance, with Councilwoman Deborah Delgado voting against the rest of the council.

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

DuPree notified the council by letter Friday of his veto of the ordinance, listing multiple reasons including incorrect salary figures, the ordinance was confusing, and was also done without the input from his (DuPree's) administration.

The letter also added; "this ordinance laughs in the face of the Mayor-Council form of government that was approved by the Federal Court and the citizens of Hattiesburg in 1985. This council wants to operate as if the City of Hattiesburg operates as a Mayor-Alderman form of government. This ordinance will hamper this administration and those to come from operating as it was designed."

In less than five minutes Monday morning, the matter was voted on and council members were out the door.

"There are consequences that need to be discussed before these plans and programs are put into place, because we are the ones that would be stuck with it when we start working on that 2016 budget next year," said Hattiesburg City Council President Kim Bradley.

According to DuPree, this did not come as a shock to him.

"For quite some time there they have been struggling to do what they could to take the mayors power from that position, not necessarily me, but from the mayor's position," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree.

DuPree, in past has defended his budgeting decisions and encouraged the council to further review the proposed amendments before they put it to a vote.

"There are some things that have to work in a timely manner, you can't take weeks to make decisions, and that's one of the things that this ordinance does, it not only weakens the mayor here, today, but it weakens any other mayor that comes after me," said DuPree.

Bradley offered his insight into how it is viewed from his standpoint.

"We aren't going to be out there telling him who to give raises to, I'm not, I have no intention of doing that, but if he comes and he has a program and an idea and he can lay it out and it makes good sense, absolutely, nothing changes at all, he just has to ask us to give our nod," said Bradley.

In the grand scheme of things, nothing actually changed today according to Bradley.

"Nothing changes at all, there is just one little asterisk at the end of the page and it says that it has to have councils consent," said Bradley.

With the override vote from the council, the mayor says he will continue moving forward.

"We will keep operating as we always have, I have a job to perform and I'll do that job to the best of my ability, that's what I swore to do," said DuPree.