Charter change on the agenda

Published 10:30 am Monday, January 2, 2017

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will take a fourth look at changing the city’s 104-year-old charter when it meets Tuesday.

A proposed resolution from Mayor George Flaggs Jr., outlining the amendments, is the final item on the board’s regular agenda.

Flaggs said the proposed changes will improve city government by adding accountability and eliminating many items in the charter that no longer apply, like funding for a city hospital and the speed limit for horses.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

If approved, the changes become effective when the new board takes office in July.

“It takes out all that obsolete stuff out,” Flaggs said in a Dec. 25 article on the proposed changes.

“Second, it allows the mayor and board of aldermen to organize itself to determine through a resolution who will appoint the department heads and still have a checks and balance, where one person cannot just name somebody; you have to have one other vote to be approved. You still have to have advise and consent.

“It allows for a day-to-day operation and more structure for the organization of city government.”

Flaggs said the revised charter creates the opportunity for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to be accountable and give daily oversight and accountability to department heads.

“You’ve got to have functional responsibility and structure, and when we do that, I think it serves the people better,” Flaggs said. “You have a better government. You have a government for the people and by the people.”

He said the changes will be a pathway to the future for good government and accountability and oversight.

In June 2015, Flaggs proposed a change of government to a strong mayor form with nine aldermen. After withdrawing that proposal, he proposed revising the charter, but Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Willis Thompson opposed the plan because it gave the mayor the authority to hire and fire the police and fire chiefs, city attorney, city clerk and finance director.

In November 2015, the mayor introduced a proposed revision putting the aldermen over specific departments and the mayor over the city attorney and clerk, but without the authority to hire and fire. The board took no action.

At the time, Thompson opposed the change because he believed the city attorney and clerk should be accountable to the board.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John