City board reviewing Gridiron expenses

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Aldermen agreed to pay mayor’s credit card charges; may have changed minds

The Batesville mayor and Board of Aldermen were scheduled to take up a matter causing growing confusion in City Hall the past two weeks at Tuesday’s afternoon meeting of the board. The meeting, set to begin at 2 p.m., was too late for coverage in this week’s newspaper, and will be included in next week’s edition.

On the lengthy agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, listed at No. 20 in the itemization of matters to come before the council, was reconsideration of minutes approved by the board in a July 5 meeting pertaining to funds spent for last month’s Legends of the Gridiron event held at the Civic Center to honor the achievements of the South Panola High School football team in the past four decades and beyond.

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The event, a partnership between the city and private businesses, was originally approved for $5,000 in funding by the board, which instructed Mayor Hal Ferrell to oversee the spending necessary for the event. The mayor is allowed to spend up to $5,000 without requesting bids.

At the next meeting, Ferrell informed the board that another $2,600 was needed for a sound system, an expense to which they also agreed.

The meeting following the event, it was revealed that spending had exceeded the discussed budget and Ferrell had used a personal credit card to pay for those expenses. Ferrell told The Panolian this week that he charged about $6,500 on his own accounts to cover the shortfalls, believing the city would reimburse him later.

Two weeks ago board members agreed to cover Ferrell’s extra expenses, minus what additional donations had been received, but apparently had a change of mind, hence the agenda item for Tuesday’s meeting seeking to rescind their early motion.

Whether the aldermen intended to inform Ferrell they would not be voting to cover those credit card expenses could not be confirmed before the meeting on Tuesday. 

Ferrell said whatever was decided by the board would be acceptable to him, and he would pay the credit card charges himself if aldermen did indeed vote to adjust the minutes and not make a reimbursement.