Meridian Mayor Asks Council to Reconsider Budget Issues

Meridian, Miss. Mayor Percy Bland says he is not going to veto the 2014 budget that the council approved on Tuesday. He says he's happy with many of the items, like the livable wage initiative, that were passed by the council.

"I thank them for their support in this measure, and I think it's very important to the employees of Meridian that it happened," Mayor Bland said. "It will affect city employees for years to come because of their decision."

However, he is calling for meeting soon with the council to ask them to reconsider two major issues that were not passed: the salaries Mayor Bland proposed for some department heads and a switch in healthcare providers. The council says the employees are happy with their current coverage and there's no time to change. But Mayor Bland says it's not too late.

"I've gotten a follow-up, documentation from United Healthcare that it is not too late to put that plan into place if they decide on that," the mayor said. "We're going to ask the city council, ask their clerk to call a quick 72 hour meeting."

After further discussion, the City Council will vote once more on the issue, but the mayor also wants to renegotiate department head salaries.

"The police chief, with new tactical units on the street, he's already brought in $400,000 of drug seizure money. We're going to see about $360,000 of that money that goes right into the general fund," Mayor Bland said. "What I'm saying is some of these key people in some of these key positions are already paying for themselves."