MS city rehires 52 employees, allowing city services to resume

MS city rehires 52 employees, allowing city services to resume

WAYNESBORO, MS (WDAM) - It appears the hiring dispute that shut down city services in Waynesboro has come to an end.

During a special meeting Friday, the board of aldermen and Mayor Richard Johnson agreed to rehire 52 city employees, allowing city services to resume. Four people were not rehired, including two police officers and two public works employees.

"I've got a motion can I get a second. Jim made a motion, Albert made a second," Johnson said.

Johnson ran through the potential rehire names, individually. Three board members were present, the votes happened and the motions carried. Ward 3 Alderwoman Tammie Wilson made her way in after the meeting started, not happy with names being read and voted on individually.

"That is pretty low down," Wilson said.

"4:30 is 4:30," Johnson replied.

"Well, you never start at 6 o'clock," Wilson said.

"Let's just move on," Johnson said.

The crowd watched anxiously as all 56 former city employee names were read aloud. Within minutes, 52 people were rehired, effective immediately. Those employees will receive the same pay and benefits they previously had.

Four people were not rehired, including two police officers and two public works employees.

"Any other questions? The 4:30 meeting is adjourned," Johnson said.

"You're doing what you want to do," one resident said. "You are taking over. Take me out, I'll go. The things he is doing is not right."

"We had a special called meeting, Alderman Johnny Gray and myself, that was called at 5:00," Alderwoman Mary Joyce Davis said. "We were really going to focus on emergency services because we need our 911 services. And then our third item was to hire all of our previous city employees, and we were going to do it as a group."

But the mayor called a special meeting to start 30 minutes prior to that 5:00 meeting with the agenda to rehire on an individual basis.

Alderman Johnny Gray addressed the crowd after the meeting, apologizing for being late.

City business will now get back to normal in the City of Waynesboro.

The disagreement stemmed from a difference of opinion regarding the rehiring of "holdover employees" from Johnson's first term as mayor. Johnson wanted to rehire each employee individually, while a majority of the board wanted to rehire the employees as a group.

The dispute between Johnson and the board of aldermen came to a head last Friday when three aldermen failed to show up to a special meeting called to rehire nearly 60 city employees. The lack of quorum prevented a vote to rehire.

The dispute left the city with a depleted police department and no fire or public works departments. Johnson said the city did have plans in place to pull in resources from surrounding counties and municipalities as they were needed.

The feud dragged on after Tuesday's board meeting when, again, the mayor and board failed to come to an agreement to rehire the employees.