Give it some thought

Published 9:42 am Monday, May 11, 2015

It’s time to seriously consider making changes to Vicksburg’s three-member Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Mayor George Flaggs. Jr. in a letter sent Tuesday to Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Willis Thompson renewed his push this week to up representation for residents of Vicksburg.

In the letter, Flaggs said the city needs to either allow the voters to change the city government from its three-member commission to a seven-member mayor-council form, or the board should amend the city charter to give him more responsibility to appoint the city’s major department heads.

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Flaggs is right in his criticism of our city’s form of government saying it is “outdated, it’s obsolete and inefficient, and does not provide enough accountability for a city for this size.”

The biggest flaw we find with the city’s current form of government is that only two votes are required to complete city business that impacts the daily lives of more than 25,000 people.

Residents the state have much more efficient forms of representation. Even the tiniest city we can think of has a larger town council than us. Braxton along U.S. 49 in Simpson County is a mere 384 acres. It has no stoplights, but it has a mayor and five aldermen.

The mayor’s top recommendation is seven-member board and a strong mayor. This form is favored by the state’s largest cities — Jackson, Gulfport, Biloxi, Tupelo. Most cities we’ve looked at in the state use a four- or five-member board.

Thompson said he wouldn’t be opposed to change but opposed letting the mayor set the budget and have more responsibility in appointing department heads should be off the table.

“By being out in the ward and working closely with the citizens and the employees, the alderman knows what’s needed, and to tell an alderman he can’t have any input in the budget I think that’s not rational at all.

It’s not fair to the citizens we represent. I feel I’d be doing the people an injustice by going along with something like that,” he said.

Mayfield opposed the proposal, saying the city’s government worked well to reduce spending.

“I think our form of government works very well, and I’ve talked to other officials and they say we have a good form of government. They’ve told me they wish they only had to deal with three people.”

Certainly there is the old “if it ain’t broke don’t fix” it argument, but at the least, we should let the people decide. Not just two men.