City leaders approve changes to charter
Published 1:51 pm Monday, June 19, 2017
After more than two years of debate, arguments and attempts at compromise, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen have approved a resolution accepting Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr.’s amendments to Vicksburg’s 105-year-old city charter.
The board voted Monday to put the amendments on the board’s minutes. South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson did not attend the meeting because of a death in his family.
“I’m feel relieved, now that all the work we put in is not in vain, and I think it’s the most progressive thing that ever happened to this city,” Flaggs said. “And I intend to restructure and reorganize this city so that we can have more day-to-day oversight and accountability, and I hope that translates in to saving dollars.”
Flaggs said he believes about $1.5 million could be saved through restructuring the city government.
The charter amendments, which become effective July 1, were initially approved in January and later reviewed and approved by the attorney general and the governor’s office and returned to the city in April.
Thompson and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, however, balked at approving a resolution to put the changes on the minutes because of a provision that made the mayor the police commissioner with appointing authority over the police chief. Something they said was not in the amendments they approved January 3.
The aldermen said they were concerned over the potential of giving one person sole authority over the police chief and the police department.
Mayfield said he changed his mind after talking with Flaggs about the police and the duties of the commissioner and the police chief involving the police department.
“I wanted to be sure we had an understanding, because if that understanding was not there, I had no intention of voting for it,” he said. “I don’t want to be caught in a situation where we create problems instead of remedying problems. I feel better about the fact that we talked. Here all we can do is take a wait-and-see attitude on the proposed charter and move on.”
Flaggs said the amended charter will give residents someone on the board they can go to with a problem.
“They have someone they can go to who is directly over a department head,” he said. “It’s a direct avenue to government and accountability.”