Hattiesburg delays budget vote, seeks changes

Hattiesburg delays budget vote, seeks changes

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to remove the item to approve the city's budget from the agenda.

Council president Kim Bradley (Ward 1) said the council wanted to make sure their proposed changes were seen in the budget before they held a vote.

"Until we get that budget in front of us, we're not going to approve it," Bradley said after Tuesday's council meeting.

Mayor Johnny DuPree, in a written statement Tuesday morning, said Bradley's submitted changes were not received by the 5 p.m. deadline on Sept. 15, which is why they were not included in the budget. Assistant Chief Financial Officer Connie Everett said the same this week, but Bradley disagrees.

"She has convenient memory," Bradley said of Everett. "That is not the truth. She called me back after I had spoken to the council members (last week) and told her of some additional changes... She said if I had gotten it to her early in the next week, that would be fine."

The mayor's statement said it was not necessary to delay voting on the entire budget in order to make the requested changes by the council.

"If the council does not wish these items to be included in the budget, there is no reason why they cannot vote on the budget today, and specify in their motion to have the two items in question removed," the letter read.

An additional letter was submitted Tuesday by Bradley and council members Carter Carroll (Ward 3), Mary Dryden (Ward 4) and Henry Naylor (Ward 5), requesting several changes, including elimination of positions and transfer of funds.

Everett said the budget must be approved by Oct. 1.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado was the lone nay vote on the budget removal.

Other action taken at council:

The city council also voted 4-1 (Delgado) to authorize the program manager and legal counsel to negotiate a design contract for a land application wastewater treatment system with Carter & Sloope, Inc.

That is the engineering company that created the design and plan for the land application system, working with Neel-Schaffer engineering and EarthWorx (formerly GroundWorx), according to Bradley.