Meridian, Miss. The head of the Meridian City Council is responding to concerns from Mayor Percy Bland about what the mayor calls a lack of respect. Mayor Bland tells Newscenter 11 that he felt disrespected by some council members during Tuesday's city council meeting. However, the president for the council says that was not the case.
"There was no disrespect. We asked questions and we expected answers," says Councilman George Thomas.
Many of the questions that city council members asked Mayor Bland Tuesday night referred to bills that were listed on a claims docket.
"It's not to delegate or micromanage every purchase that the mayor makes, it's just to get an understanding," says Meridian City Council Vice-President Dustin Markham.
One of the items that the council questioned was an additional $16,000 that the city's attorney billed the city during one month of service.
"Here we are getting a bill for $22,000 for reviewing handbooks, and for reviewing contracts, and a lot of this appears to fall up under what's considered as his routine duties for the city of Meridian," said Ward 4 Councilwoman Kim Houston.
Meanwhile, Thomas says the council's questions about several bills needed to be answered.
"You have to understand that the city council is personally responsible for any money spent by the city of Meridian," says Thomas. "So, anytime a claims docket comes forward, if it is not a legal expenditure, the city council members are responsible, not the mayor, not anyone else. We approve the claims docket and we want to make sure that everything that is spent is legitimate."
"It's a new day, and we're taking out time to really look at the information that is given to us," says Councilwoman Houston.
'We just want to make sure that the money is appropriately spent, and if it's appropriately spent then there is no problem with that," says Thomas. "We just want to make sure, and I think that the public is asking for more open city government, and one of the ways to open up city government is to have the discussions at a council meeting."
Meanwhile, as for concerns about billing for the city's attorney, Councilman Thomas says that has been an issue for many years. To save money he says some council members have talked about exploring the option of hiring a full-time attorney for the city.
The next time that the Meridian City Council will meet will be Thursday, October 24th at 9 AM for a work session. That will be held inside the conference room on the third floor of city hall.