Petition Seeks to Put Bond Issue on Ballot

Meridian, Miss.

There's a new development in a multi-million dollar bond issue in Lauderdale County. Supervisors approved a resolution to pass the $14 million bond last month.

It would fund three recreational projects and the first phase of renovations at the Lauderdale County Courthouse.

Opponents of the measure met an important deadline Monday.

Prior to the supervisors' meeting, they turned in a petition to the chancery clerk. The intent of the petition is to force a countywide vote on the bond issue. However, supporters of the petition are concerned that steps are being taken to derail their efforts.

A vote on what to do next with the petition passed on a 3-2, with supervisors Wayman Newell and Kyle Rutledge voting against it.

Opponents of the bond resolution say that the motion approved by the board Monday is rarely, if ever, used.

"What the board of supervisors did is pass a motion that if the clerk determines that there are 1,500 names, then the petitions will be copied and also put on the (county's) website for two weeks so that people can determine whether they signed the petition or if for some reason they don't want to be on the petition," says Board Attorney Rick Barry.

"Those people know who they are, who have concerns," says petition supporter, Van Goodman. "It would seem to me that they could go to the proper office to do that without everyone's name and address being broadcast over the airwaves over the Internet."

"I've never heard of holding a petition for two weeks," says Newell. "To my knowledge there has never been a petition held for two weeks before; why now?"

Board President Hank Florey says he voted for the motion in an attempt to be fair to all parties involved.

"We just want to make sure that everybody that signed it, that they are sure that they knew what they were doing,: Florey said. "We've had calls up here that some people signed it and they want their name off."

Once the chancery clerk determines that 1,500 names are on the petition, those names will be posted on the county's official website. People who want their name taken off the list may then contact the chancery clerk's office.

"If there are 1,500 registered voters that have signed that petition, that want an election on this issue, there will be one," says Florey.

Here's the breakdown for the proposed $14 million bond issue: $4 million of it would be used to start renovations at the courthouse; another $4 million would be used to build an indoor sportsplex at Highland Park; $3.5 million would be used to build an outdoor community recreation project in Collinsville and the remaining $2.5 million would be used to build a similar outdoor complex in Clarkdale.