Meridian Star

November 19, 2013

Petitioners want election, board says no

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Terri Ferguson Smith

    County supervisors have no plans to hold an election on a $3.5 million bond issue.

    An election would be necessary if the board wanted to go ahead with the bond issue, but District 3 Supervisor Josh Todd said he would not go to the expense of having an election after 2,122 names on the petition were certified as valid. State law requires that at least 1,500 valid signatures be on a petition to force an election.

    Todd brought up the bond issue last month to fund the West Lauderdale recreation project. That project was included in a $14 million bond issue passed earlier this year by the board but validation of the larger bond issue is tied up in the state's supreme court. It is likely to be unresolved for several more months.

    When Todd asked the board to pass the $3.5 million bond issue, he said if it passed he would deduct that amount from the $14 million bond issue, if and when it was approved.

    At a Board meeting on Monday, Ray Huffmaster asked Lee Thaggard, board attorney, if the board had to call an election, based on the petition.

    "The law does not require the board to put it to a vote," Thaggard said.

    Thaggard later explained that if the board wanted to continue forward with the $3.5 million bond issue, it would have to have an election. But since they had decided to drop it, they did not have to have an election, he said.

    Huffmaster told Todd that since he had pulled the $3.5 million out of the original bond issue, that his project was dead. Thaggard said that is not the case.

    Tommy Williams, who helped lead the petition drive, said the situation was "another example of the arrogance of power."

    Todd said he had not tried to hide anything; he was trying to get the recreation project moving for the people of the West Lauderdale community.