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Supes say no to county trucks on 3-2 vote

The Panola County Board of Supervisors for the 2020-24 session. Pictured are (front row) John Thomas (Dist. 3), Earl Burdette (Dist. 2), Chad Weaver (Dist. 4), James Birge (Dist. 1), and Cole Flint (Dist. 5), (back row) Sheriff Shane Phelps, County Attorney Charlie Gaines Baker, County Administrator Kate Victor, and Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock. (Photo by Malcom Morehead)

For the first time in several terms of the Panola County Board of Supervisors,  elected officials will not be given the option of using a county-owned vehicle on an everyday basis.

In a 3-2 vote, Supervisors Cole Flint, John Thomas, and Chad Weaver voted against a motion to furnish newly-elected Supervisor Earl Burdette with a county truck. His predecessor, former Supervisor Vernice Avant, used a county truck during her elected terms.

The other supervisor who used a county truck day-to-day in the last four years was James Birge. Supervisors in Panola, and other counties, have historically had a choice of driving a county vehicle, or submitting mileage claims while using their personal vehicles in carrying out their duties in their respective districts.

Some supervisors, namely John Thomas and Cole Flint, have in past years wanted to take county-owned vehicles away from supervisors, but never had a third vote on the board. With the recent election of Chad Weaver (District 4), the supervisors from the south part of Panola County seem to have found that elusive third vote and the resulting majority.

Thomas, especially, has often voiced his opposition to supervisors driving county trucks based on the ultimate cost to taxpayers. Thomas and Flint rarely submit mileage statements for the county claims docket, and usually only when they have traveled to Jackson or the Gulf Coast for meetings.

With Monday’s decision, supervisors will keep the option of submitting mileage statements each month, and will also have county trucks or cars available for their use for out-of-town meetings, or special circumstances.