I wanted to let your readers know that the rejection of the petition by the Board of Mayor and Commissioners did not end our attempt to overturn the pay raise.
We have written and are awaiting replies from Mississippi's Attorney General's, the Office of State Auditor and the Mississippi Ethics Commission.
We have asked the Attorney General to provide an opinion on two issues.
The first addresses raising the Board's salary without a vote of the citizenry. While I was mayor in 1987, the Board moved to raise the salary from $24,000 to $36,000. The issue went before the voters and was defeated. So, that was the end of that.
When Henry Espy was mayor after me, he and his Board found a way to get around the voters and raised the salaries of the mayor and commissioners. The mayor went to $46,000. Eventually Richard Webster and Bill Luckett became mayors and again the Board raised the mayor and commissioners' salaries without a vote of the citizenry.
We asked the Attorney General to look into how this is possible as the charter does call for a vote of the populace.
We also asked the Attorney General for an opinion on the ability of a municipal board to discuss and raise salaries in an Executive Session.
To the Ethics Commission we asked for an opinion of the open meeting laws regarding discussion of Municipal Board salaries in executive session.
To the State Auditor, we are asking for an audit of the city's books for the last four years to determine and predict if the City of Clarksdale is able to anticipate and support a more than $400,000 (the total amount of all raises) annual addition to the city budget without raising taxes or cutting current city services.
We cannot be certain if we will even get a reply. If we do get a positive reply, we will determine what the next steps are to prevent this raiding of the city's coffers to make this Board the highest or among the highest paid Municipal Board in the State of Mississippi.
John M. Mayo