Alcorn County tax collector questions supervisor protocol

county_alcorn_greenBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – The Alcorn County Board of Supervisors isn’t making any changes to public comments procedures at its meetings in response to questions from county Tax Collector Larry Ross.

Ross, who said he was speaking as a private citizen, asked the board at its meeting last week to clarify rules on when public comment is allowed.

During the March 3 meeting, District 1 supervisor and board president Lowell Hinton denied Ross’ request to speak while supervisors were discussing a motion before taking a vote.

“I still am a citizen, and a concerned citizen,” Ross said.

Hinton told Ross at the March 17 meeting that he was well within state law that governs county board meetings in denying Ross’ request to speak while a motion was on the floor.

“That was a time for the board to discuss the matter among themselves,” Hinton said, “and unless a member of the public is invited, they are not to speak.”

County attorney Bill Davis confirmed the board of supervisors controls the agenda during the course of the meeting.

Hinton said, as he did in the March 3 meeting, any member of the public who wishes to speak must be placed on the agenda, as Ross was for this meeting.

Ross said his concern was that the matter being discussed was of concern and interest to the entire county – the sale of 129 acres of county property formerly designated as a potential site for a rubbish landfill.

The matter was not on the regular agenda and was brought up for discussion by District 3 Supervisor Tim Mitchell. Hinton made a motion, seconded by Mitchell, that the property be sold at auction and proceeds used to offset the deficit in that budget line item. The motion passed by a 3-2 vote.

Ross said the matter was not urgent and should have been placed on a future regular agenda so any member of the public with an interest could ask to speak to the issue. Ross said he heard incorrect information being shared among supervisors during the discussion and wanted a chance to address it.

Hinton said he felt Larry Ross’ family relationship with District 4 Supervisor Gary Ross played a part in his position on the subject, a statement that both Larry Ross and Gary Ross vigorously denied. Larry Ross is Gary Ross’ uncle.

Board members did not agree to Larry Ross’ request that in the future matters of a non-urgent nature be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting if the issues were brought up after the regular agenda items were completed.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com