By The Associated Press
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — A reception held by the City of Southaven at last month’s Mississippi Municipal League Conference came in under budget at about $59,000, according to receipts released by the mayor.
The Commercial Appeal reports (http://bit.ly/Qoi83p ) that Mayor Greg Davis, who is under a federal probe, released the receipts Friday.
The reception was paid for primarily by 14 businesses that pledged $55,500. The remainder, $4,150, came from the city’s tourism fund.
Some residents have criticized the mayor for letting the businesses pay for the reception.
One critic is Linda Temple, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Southaven. She told Davis at a July 3 meeting that she felt it was a potential conflict of interest for the businesses, which have city contracts, to donate money for the reception.
The city attorney said it was not a conflict because the businesses did not have pending contracts with the city at the time of the reception.
Davis has defended the reception, saying it was needed to show the city had bounced back from Mississippi Auditor Stacey Pickering’s yearlong investigation into Davis’s spending of city funds.
A receipt from Beau Rivage in Biloxi, where the reception event was held, was dated July 20 and lists the reception as a “banquet” held June 26 in a ballroom at the hotel.
The single-page receipt shows $57,042 was spent on the banquet, which had been budgeted for more than $80,000. The receipt also included food and alcohol, plus $5,250 for entertainment and tips and $462 for a band room.
The total cost came to $62,754 but taxes totaling $3,104 are exempt; when subtracted, the final billable cost of the event totaled $59,650.
The amount does not include $5,838.61 the city spent on hotel rooms for city officials who attended the MML conference.
“I said from the beginning that the reception was under $60,000.” Davis said of the event.
“Once again, I will stand by my original decision to have the reception that was held to promote the city, especially in light of the $4,000 used from our tourism tax,” Davis said.
He said $80,500 was budgeted — $55,500 from the private contributors and $25,000 from the city’s tourism fund, which is money collected from the city’s 1 percent tax on hotels.