Heated arguments broke out in Pelahatchie Tuesday night as board members, the Mayor, and the public met in a town meeting to discuss new plans to fix the budgets and payroll.
New hires were made to manage checks and the budgets, but tensions are still high between the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Ryshonda Beechem.
Tensions ignited citizens attending the meeting forcing police and sheriff’s deputies to step in and ask for order.
Going through two full pay periods with no paychecks signed for the more than two dozen Pelahatchie city employees, folks are still boiling over who’s responsible. Some blame the Mayor.
“To have somebody sitting with her when she does this so we can guarantee somewhere those numbers would be correct,” City Alderman Michael Adams said. “Now she’s Backpedaling and don’t want to sign the checks and there’s a reason for that too.”
One big step to try and solve the matter was the board voting yes to hiring Angela Gardner.
Gardner was recommended by the Mayor to take the role of City Clerk to assist in the bookkeeping and sign checks when needed.
“It needs to be put in place because if any event I’m not here then someone else has to sign off on the checks for accountability,” Mayor Beechem stated. “Most of the time since the clerks are running the checks it should be them.”
Another move that raised some eyebrows was the board’s decision to pass their 2019-2020 budget plan which had many financial similarities to previous years.
“We don’t really know what’s been paid and what hasn’t been paid,” Alderman At Large Edward Jones told us. “How much money we got in each account? We’ve got a lot of different accounts, what we have and what we don’t have before we send out to pay any more bills.”
That issue goes back to a State Audit in 2017 where Auditors found the city moving over half a million dollars out of their drug seizure fund to pay for salaries and utilities outside the police department.
“We’re trying our best to get things squared away as best we can,” Jones continued. “But it’s been a hectic couple of weeks for sure.”
The Department of Labor also spoke at the meeting assuring the city it’s working closely with paycheck issues.