Thursday, April 28, 2005

Board says no to Forex contract

Staff Writer

The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen overrode a veto by Mayor Andre’ DeBerry at last week’s meeting, putting the brakes on a controversial initiative by the mayor to hire International Forex Financial Group to study the city’s financial rating.

DeBerry cited Roberts Rules of Order and a section of the Mississippi Code as his authority in blocking a motion by alderman Garrie Colhoun April 7 to rescind his March 22 vote for the Forex study.

The initial motion for a Forex study passed 3-2 (on March 22), following a motion by alderman Russell Johnson, and a second by Naylond Hayes. Colhoun voted for the measure but two weeks later changed his mind. He made a motion to rescind his vote at the April 7 meeting. That motion to rescind passed 3-2 with Tim Liddy and Nancy Hutchens supporting the rescind motion.

In a memo circulated to aldermen April 19, DeBerry stated his intentions to veto the rescind motion.

At the board meeting that night DeBerry explained his memo and said he intended to invoke Roberts Rules of Order and the Mississippi Code. He said a two-thirds majority or four out of five aldermen had to vote for the rescind motion to take effect.

“So, you wouldn’t have to veto then?” Hayes asked.

“No. Technically, it’s not a veto,” DeBerry said.

“So, if it’s not a veto, you can’t override it?” Liddy asked.

DeBerry said his action was “basically a ruling.”

“The chairman inadvertently ruled the motion passed to rescind,” DeBerry said.

City Clerk Sandra Young questioned DeBerry’s claim about Roberts Rules.

“I’ve done a lot of research and it’s nowhere in my minutes where the City of Holly Springs adopted Roberts Rules of Order,” said Young. “We have always been taught you cannot adopt something that diminishes your power.”

DeBerry argued that Roberts Rules of Order are the standard rules for conducting meetings “not only by this board but the U.S. Congress and U.S. Supreme Court.”

“It’s almost like a Bill of Rights,” he said.

“Mayor, may I say something?” Colhoun asked. “I would like to make a motion to reconsider the vote whereby the resolution was adopted in the first place.”

“If you have passed a motion, it must be rescinded or repealed,” said the mayor. “It must be repealed or amended. The board, in fact, dealt with the issue through its vote.”

“Have we gotten a contract from the attorney?” asked Liddy.

“We are waiting on a contract from the attorney,” DeBerry said.

“I don’t even have an address for these folks,” said board attorney Ki Jones.

“I told you to get me a payment plan,” said DeBerry. “We’d make this or that payment. Then, I was confronted with a motion to rescind.”

Colhoun asked about his motion.

“Your motion is out of order,” said DeBerry.

“So, my motion is out of order?” Colhoun asked. “So, my motion at the last board meeting failed by four votes?”

“I would agree to that - that motion to override (takes four votes),” Jones said.

“So, this letter presenting this veto is an opportunity to override this veto tonight?” Colhoun asked.

“It is a veto, but to stop the motion,” said DeBerry.

“Would it be out of order to ask for a motion to rescind?” Colhoun asked.

“The reason it is not a veto is because the motion, itself, did not pass,” DeBerry said.

He said the previous motion to rescind failed due to a failure to garner four votes.

Liddy asked how much time can lapse before a motion to override a veto would be moot.

“If we attempt to override a veto, this might be the only chance,” he said.

“If you call it a veto, it is a motion that did not receive enough votes to pass,” DeBerry said. “I’ve only vetoed one (motion) before this.”

“I motion to rescind the previous motion of March 22, a vote relating to funding (the Forex contract),” said Colhoun.

“I second,” said Liddy.

Liddy, Colhoun and Hutchens voiced an aye. Johnson voted nay.

Hayes hesitated.

“On the basis of the contract, will we all have (an opportunity) to okay the contract?” he asked.

“There will be a terms of agreement before the ...” DeBerry said. “I proposed to the board to do a payment plan option. I was prepared to do that.”

Hayes pressed on.

“If and when a contract is drawn up, will this board have to okay it? Will it be presented to the board before it goes into effect?” Hayes asked.

“The board will have to okay the terms of agreement between Forex and the City of Holly Springs that will be executed by myself and the clerk,” DeBerry said.

“Will the board have to okay the contract, if and when it is developed?” Hayes asked.

“Remember on March 22, the board voted to enter into a financial agreement with this company,” DeBerry continued. “As the motion stands now, nothing is required of the board as far as action or as it relates to a contract approved by the board. But I would not do that. It is done by me but it is not required (of me).”

W.A. McMillan arose from his seat.

“Mr. Chairman, it should be remembered Dr. Beckley asked will the board have to accept or reject a contract. Now you are saying, no. You said, yes (to Beckley).”

“The board has an opportunity to talk about payment options,” DeBerry said.

“Was it a part of your statement they would have an opportunity to accept or reject (a contract)?”McMillan asked.

“What I’m saying is this board can only act on its minutes,” said DeBerry. “The board voted on payment and to retain IFFG. I said I would come back and let them view (the contract) to make them comfortable.”

“You said, yes, the board would have a final chance to (act on the contract),” said McMillan.

“Mayor, in order for me to have a clear conscience on this thing, I’m going to have to go against you,” Hayes said. “It’s nothing personal.”

Hayes voted aye to rescind and Hutchens voted aye.

“Mayor, there are four yeses and one no,” Young said.

“The motion to rescind on a vote of 4-1 passed,” said DeBerry. “Ladies and gentlemen, I hope we are not getting into a situation where we motion to rescind.”

“Mayor, I’ve been on this board 12 years and this is the first time we’ve rescinded any votes,” Colhoun said. “I can’t recall rescinding any votes.”

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