Dispute between mayor, aldermen leaves MS city with no fire department

Dispute between mayor, aldermen leaves MS city with no fire department

WAYNESBORO, MS (WDAM) - Dozens of people are without a job with the City of Waynesboro after the mayor and board of aldermen failed to come to an agreement to rehire city employees. The city lost 16 police officers along with the entire fire department.

Mayor Richard Johnson wants to rehire on an individual basis, while the majority of the board wants to rehire employees as a group.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has just under 5,000 citizens.

The city does have contingency plans in place for the police, fire, and public works departments. Johnson said the city will pull in resources from surrounding counties and municipalities until a rehiring agreement can be made.

Waynesboro mayor, aldermen can't reach agreement to re-hire 60 former city employees

Former city employees and the Wayne County NAACP President are now speaking about the chaos.

"If you have a break-in or robbery in the city, then it's optional who is going to be there to patrol. That is wrong," Wayne County NAACP President Karl Rogers said.

The deadline for the rehiring was midnight on Friday, Dec. 31.

"Tax payer dollars are being spent for protection and services that the people are not getting," Rogers said.

Rogers was among the crowd at the last meeting where Johnson vetoed the board's vote to rehire all city employees as a group. Rogers said the concerned citizens group asked him to document what is happening to ensure civil rights are not being violated. One of his concerns is what's happening to the roughly 5,000 people in the city.

"No police, no city workers to go in and get ordinances and different things done," Rogers said. "Go to pay your water bill and nobody is there."

A big sign on the front door of city hall reads "City Hall is closed until further notice!! Drive thru will be open at 8 a.m. Thursday January the 4th to take water payments. Drive thru window only."

"It's crazy. I work in the boxes, and the boxes are behind everywhere around town. It's just wild," Donny Gaines said.

Gaines is one of the 60 former city employees now without a job. He worked on the city box truck, and he walked WDAM through the trash boxes piling up at area businesses due to the shutdown.

"I hope they get their stuff together," Gaines said. "They need to work it out, because everybody needs their job."

No official word has been given to when the mayor and board will get back together to discuss city business.

"We would like to know when the next meeting is so the city can go back to normal," Rogers said.

City officials said there could be a special called meeting in the coming days.