Meridian city council member Kim Houston asked city leaders for clarification Tuesday night on the status and pay of the city's interim parks and recreation director, Joe Norwood. 

"Where is he tonight? We haven't seen him since your Facebook announcement," Houston said to Mayor Percy Bland before a vote on the payroll at a city council meeting.

Norwood represents District 4 on the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.

On Aug. 22, Bland named Norwood the interim director of the city's parks and recreation department. 

Bland said the position would be for 90 days, but that Norwood would still have to be confirmed by the city council to be appointed director. 

Last month, Bland said he had determined Norwood would not have enough votes to get confirmed and that a committee including two council members would help interview candidates for the position.

Meridian has been without a parks and recreation director since Kelvin McGruder was fired in July 2018.

Following the meeting Tuesday night, Houston, who represents Ward 4, said she wanted to know how much Norwood was being paid by the city, what he was doing in the interim role and how his position would affect the 2020 budget.

"How long do you plan on paying this and where is this money coming from? October 1, we’re in a brand new budget year with specified spending on specified things,” she said. 

Bland said later that Norwood had been consulting with him on the efficiency and effectiveness of each area of the department in his capacity as interim director.

"We have tried to remedy a situation with the Lakeview Golf Course and he has worked hand-in-hand with myself and (Public Safety Director) Doug Stephens on plans to move the parks and recreation department forward," Bland said. 

Bland said Norwood has been paid a part-time hourly rate of an annual salary of approximately $58,000 to $60,000.

Norwood's pay never exceeded the line item for the 2019 budget, Bland said. 

Other matters

In other matters Tuesday night, the council voted to approve an agreement with Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. for a sewer rate study.

The study would determine the city's current sewer rates and what rates would need to change in order to pay off bonds for repairs to the city's wastewater and water collection system, according to Councilman George Thomas, who represents Ward 1. 

The council also approved a resolution accepting an agreement with the Municipal Intercept Company, LLC to collect the city's debt. The company would submit past due debt to the Mississippi Department of Revenue so that money owed to the city for things like traffic fines or water bills could be taken out of state income tax refunds, Thomas said. 

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