Divided vote prevents Leader In Me funding from supervisors

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Warren County Board of Supervisors may have passed a resolution to help the chamber of commerce support the Vicksburg Warren School District’s Leader In Me program, but it won’t be contributing $100,000 to the program.

Because the board is prohibited by state law from donating money to private programs, it needs a local and private, or special bill, approved by the Legislature to make the contribution.

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

The supervisors voted 3-2 during a Monday meeting to adopt a resolution for a special bill that would help the Chamber of Commerce in their support of the Leader In Me initiative, and that vote essentially killed any chance of the county making the contribution, because of one of the Legislature’s unwritten rules.

According to custom, a local and private bill doesn’t stand much of a chance if the local support is divided, District 55 Rep. Oscar Denton said.

“If the support of the local government is not unanimous, the (Local and Private Committee) chairman won’t consider it,” he said.

State Sen. Briggs Hopson said the custom is the same in the Senate.

“I have talked to the Local and Private chairman, and he has advised he will not take up a local and private unless it is unanimous or there are extenuating circumstances.

“He could look at extenuating circumstances, as to why there was a dissenting vote or an abstention, but would not take up a local and private if it was anything less than that,” Hopson said.

Board of Supervisors President Richard George said the resolution will not be brought up again “unless there is a change in position” of the two supervisors who opposed the issue.

“It has been voted on and will go to the Legislature and they can vote on it,” he said, adding the supervisors have heard the local and private bill would only be approved if there was local unanimous support.

The board considered the resolution at the request of Jimmy Gouras with the private Economic Development Foundation.

Gouras told the supervisors the Legislature agreed to provide $100,000 over a four-year period to help fund Leader In Me as a pilot program for the rest of the state due to the success rate in the VWSD, but had only funded the first two years.

Gouras told the supervisors the money was not in the present legislative budget to fund the program, and funding was not expected for the fourth year.

Supervisors William Banks and John Arnold voted against the resolution Monday.

Banks asked if the program was so successful, why didn’t the school district request this funding from the supervisors in their budget?

Arnold said he’s not against Leader In Me and believes it’s a great program, but “I’m not in favor of putting the tax burden on the citizens when there is funding right now sitting in the school system that they could easily cover this.”

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