Judge blocks garnishment of Southaven mayor's pay

By The Associated Press

SOUTHAVEN — A judge has temporarily blocked the Mississippi auditor’s office from garnishing Southaven Mayor Greg Davis’ wages to repay the city about $73,000.

The Commercial Appeal reports that Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas granted Davis’ request for a preliminary injunction late Friday.

“Without his salary, Davis will be unable to meet his daily, weekly and monthly personal obligations, including his support obligations to his wife and children,” Thomas wrote in the order. “Davis will be forced to work without pay for a period of approximately five to six months. Obviously, the result could be financial ruin that cannot be repaired. Therefore, this court finds that the injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable harm to this plaintiff.”

Thomas also ordered Davis to put up a $75,000 bond as security until Thomas makes a final ruling on whether Davis owes the debt that the state says he owes the city. The new bond is separate from his public official’s surety bond.

Davis has repaid about $96,000 of more than $170,000 state Auditor Stacey Pickering says the mayor owes for misspending city money.

In August, Pickering announced plans to garnish Davis’ pay and to file a lawsuit to ensure the debt is recovered.

Davis countersued and asked for the injunction to block Pickering from seizing his $3,700 bi-weekly paycheck.

Lisa Shoemaker, a spokeswoman for the auditor’s office, said in an email after Thomas’ ruling: “While our office had hoped the preliminary injunction would have been denied, the judge did not support Davis’ argument that an additional bond wasn’t needed. We will continue moving forward with our efforts to collect the money Davis owes back to the taxpayers of Southaven.”

All parties went before Thomas on Aug. 23 for a hearing on the injunction. At that hearing, the judge chastised both sides for not having answers to several questions that he wanted answered. He gave the defense and prosecution 20 days to answer his questions.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com