By The Associated Press
SOUTHAVEN — Mississippi Auditor Stacey Pickering paid a surprise visit to Southaven Mayor Greg Davis at a city meeting and announced plans to garnish the mayor’s paycheck.
The Commercial Appeal reports Pickering returned $96,000 in disputed funds repaid by Davis Tuesday night, but announced plans to take the mayor’s paycheck to recover another $70,000.
Pickering said Davis’s $3,700 bi-weekly pay check will be garnisheed to help recover the remaining funds that Pickering’s office ordered Davis to repay the city late last year. Pickering also said he has filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Court against the mayor and the mayor’s bonding company.
Davis repaid the $96,000 through donations from supporters in December.
The auditor’s office has demanded Davis pay the city for travel, stress counseling and other personal expenses billed to taxpayers.
“If there had been a good-faith effort, we would not have had to take the action we have taken,” Pickering said. “If the city does issue him a paycheck, whoever authorizes that paycheck and cuts it will be liable to the taxpayers of Southaven and the state of Mississippi.”
Davis, who said he didn’t know Pickering planned to appear until he saw him in the hallway shortly before Tuesday’s regular board meeting, said his attorney, Steve Farese, plans to file a temporary restraining order as soon as possible in Hinds County Court.
“This issue will be taken care of before the next pay period, which is next Friday,” Davis said. “If a judge rules he has the authority to stop it (Davis’s pay), we will keep coming to work, doing our job and paying our bills.”
Pickering said Mississippi Code 7-7-43 allows his office to take the mayor’s paycheck.
“There are three ways the debt can be satisfied,” Pickering said. “The debt can be paid by the mayor, or his bonding company can pay it, and also the wages he has earned through the city will be remitted back to the state of Mississippi until this is resolved.”
Davis repaid the $96,000 through donations from supporters in December. The money was spent on expensive dinners, liquor and trips.
He said he was glad the Hinds County lawsuit has been filed because he will finally get his day in court.
“We were expecting some action from Mr. Pickering and have been expecting some action from him for the last 60 days,” Davis said.