Hancock County

Bay council members boycott meeting over 'altered' invoices

JUSTIN MITCHELL/SUN HERALD 
 Ward 3 Councilman Jeffery Reed, center, reviews Bay St. Louis' proposed budget worksheet at a council meeting Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. The City Council raised property taxes by 5 mills.
JUSTIN MITCHELL/SUN HERALD Ward 3 Councilman Jeffery Reed, center, reviews Bay St. Louis' proposed budget worksheet at a council meeting Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. The City Council raised property taxes by 5 mills.

BAY ST. LOUIS -- A stalemate has begun to solidify between Mayor Les Fillingame's administration and the city council after four council members boycotted Thursday's meeting, stalling city business for the second time this week.

Council members planned to meet Thursday, after they recessed their regular Tuesday meeting because of disputes with the administration over vendor invoices. They said the mayor did not provide invoices in a timely manner and in some cases submitted "altered" invoices, Councilman Joey Boudin said on Tuesday.

The council had refused to approve the payments because Fillingame provided the invoices only moments before Tuesday's meeting began. Moreover, accusations of "altered" and incomplete claims paperwork prompted council members to demand the administration furnish original invoices instead of copies.

The mayor, however, did not meet their demands, further upsetting the council members.

"I just went to the council chambers at 12:20 to review the original invoices as per our demand," Boudin wrote in an email addressed to the council, the mayor and local media. "They still have not been delivered to our office. I won't be attending the meeting tonight."

Three other council members followed Boudin's lead, causing a boycott of the meeting which could not commence for lack of a quorum.

Councilman Doug Seal, who showed up to the council chambers expecting the meeting, expressed his disappointment with the administration.

Seal said the council passed a resolution almost a year ago that requires the administration to provide the invoices to the council no later than the Friday before every regular Tuesday meeting.

"I have no access to the documentation I need to make an informed decision," he said. "We haven't even been receiving the information on Mondays either. To me, that's just not sufficient for making decisions on city business."

Fillingame, however, disputes the council's claim that they passed such a resolution last year. He also reiterated what he told the council earlier this week, saying it's a security risk to carry original invoices across the street from City Hall to the council chambers.

"Their lack of concern over our concern that we be a little more secure with the originals really surprises me," Fillingame said.

The mayor also said the council's accusations of altered invoices is unfounded.

"How could we possibly alter an invoice?" he said.

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