COG Leaders Address Goldacker, Other Issues

The Council of Governments meeting in Meridian had one of its largest turnouts in recent years. Elected officials from the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County and the state legislature were on hand for the luncheon. They discussed an array of issues that are affecting locals.

One of the issues involved a collaborative effort between the City of Meridian and Mississippi Power to improve street lighting.

"We're in the process within the next 30 to 45 days of having all of the street lights in the city of Meridian on," said Mayor Percy Bland. "It's going to help us further reduce crime because the more lights that are lit, the less trafficking of drugs and crime activity there will be and that's what we want."

Crediting a new initiative that has Meridian police more visible, Mayor Bland told the group that crime calls to dispatch shifts are down by anywhere from 48% to 52%.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Billy Sollie explained to those at the meeting that he expects to find out before January exactly how much money the East Mississippi Drug Task Force will receive from the state next year.

"We'll have four agents assigned to the task force down from 11 at the beginning of this year," said Sollie.

On the state level Mississippi House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden also talked about efforts by city leaders to allow residents to vote on a proposed food and beverage tax to fund the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center that's set to be built in Meridian. Previously, the state legislature approved the city's request to do this.

"That's still allowable, but that's in the city's discretion when and if they will bring that forward," said Snowden.

Speaking of city matters, after the luncheon Meridian City Council president George Thomas told Newscenter 11 that at the council's meeting Tuesday, members are expected to vote on an issue that involves Meridian's current chief administrative officer.

"As for the CAO position, on the agenda for the city council meeting there is a motion being presented to stop the pay of the chief administrative officer at this time," Thomas said.

Thomas declined to comment any further on the matter.

The current chief administrative officer is Curt Goldacker. He has been serving in that position as a temporary employee since July.

Recently, Mayor Bland told Newscenter 11 that he did not have enough council member votes to get Goldacker approved for the position full-time.