City could lose insurance coverage after board meeting debacleBy FROM STAFF REPORTS,
Follow this link to view the video referenced in this story
Update: This article's contents have been updated since its original publication
Vendors who appear on the city’s current claims docket are in danger of not getting paid, thanks to an error and a potentially illegal quorum that followed Thursday night’s regular meeting of the Indianola Board of Aldermen.
The board met on Thursday instead of next Monday, due to the upcoming Mississippi Municipal League Conference.
The claims docket, which is an itemization of what the city owes its employees and its many vendors - which include the city’s life and health insurance - was held up so that a few items could be discussed in executive session, Mayor Steve Rosenthal told The Enterprise-Tocsin on Friday.
The Enterprise-Tocsin did not have a representative at Thursday night’s meeting.
Rosenthal said it was appropriate for the board to address those items in executive session, but when the board reconvened, several motions were made and carried, but the meeting was adjourned absent the approval of the docket.
That’s when things got interesting.
Several aldermen entertained the notion of simply calling the meeting back to order, but because that would legally be considered a special call meeting, the public would have to be given three hours notification.
The board has done this in the past, but they were advised by City Attorney Gary Austin not to do it again.
A video given to The Enterprise-Tocsin after the meeting shows Rosenthal attempting to clarify with Ward 4 Alderman Marvin Elder – the person who was responsible for making motions once the board came out of executive session – if he indeed asked him if all motions had been made.
Ward 5 Alderman Sam Brock, however, interrupted Rosenthal on four different occasions, shouting, “No, no, no, no” with each shout louder than the last.
Rosenthal asked Brock to leave the room, but Brock responded, “Na, I ain’t leaving. Hell, I pay my taxes too.”
“I’m sure you do,” Rosenthal can be heard saying, adding that it did not justify his shouting.
Elder explained that the board had been instructed not to reconvene once it had adjourned but still suggested doing it.
“We’re going have to do it, because tomorrow is a bad day,” Elder said on the video.
Rosenthal left the room and invited the remaining board members to proceed how they saw fit.
Ward 1 Alderman Gary Fratesi and Ward 2 Alderman Darryl Simpson both exited shortly afterward, the video showed.
The meeting was called back into session, and the three remaining board members, Elder, Woods and Brock voted to approve the docket.
The E-T has reached out to Elder, Woods and Brock for comment, with no response as of the publication of this article.
Since the second meeting may not have been legal, a special call meeting was announced for 11:45 on Friday morning to straighten up the matter.
Fratesi, Simpson and Rosenthal showed up, but Elder, Woods and Brock were absent.
“Due to not having a quorum, a later meeting will be scheduled to pay the docket,” Rosenthal said on Friday.
Vendor’s checks require a clerk’s signature, Rosenthal said.
Interim City Clerk Charlotte Kilgore indicated to Rosenthal that she would not be signing them on Friday, due to the potential legal implications.
Friday is also Kilgore’s last day on the job. She submitted her resignation two weeks ago after the board opted not to move on Rosenthal’s recommendation to hire her as the full-time city clerk.
It is Rosenthal’s understanding, based on what he’s been told by Austin and from reading Robert’s Rules of Order that without another special call meeting to approve the docket, anything done from this point regarding checks is likely not legal.
The most concerning aspect for the city is the upcoming due dates for its multiple insurance policies that range from life insurance, property and casualty insurance and health benefits.
Doug Russell, with Indianola Insurance - the firm that handles the city's property and casualty policy - said the due date for that premium is July 1.
"They would need to make that payment to keep that policy in force," Russell said.
The same would likely apply for any other insurance coverage the city has.
According to the claims docket, these are just a few of the vendors who may have to wait until the next meeting of the board to get paid.
City employees’ checks do not require the same signature, as they are handled through direct deposit.
(This is an incomplete list of vendors. The full list can be read at Indianola City Hall).
Sun Life Financial
Colonial Life Insurance
Life Insurance Company of Alabama
Mississippi Department of Human Services
Delta Management Associates Inc.
U.S. Department of Education
Indianola Insurance Agency
Reed Extermination Co.
Pitney Bowes Inc.
Arrow Disposal Services Inc.
Community Bank of Mississippi
Kale Farms LLC
Clydesdale Farms LLC
Clay Hill Farms LLC
M&R Farms of Meridian LLC
Delta Electric Power Association
Greenville Family Medical Center
Gresham Petroleum Co.
Indianola Veterinary Clinic
Sunflower Lumber & Home Center
Shoppers Value Foods
Pure Air Filter Sales & Services
Mississippi Delta Community College
Mississippi Police Supply
Shell Rapid Lube
Barnes Auto Repair
Delta Computer Systems
Johnson Brothers Construction
Mack’s Transmission Service
Mid-South Uniform & Supply
Crop Production Services
Greenville Glass Co.
Christopher J. Nissen
Hall’s Towing Service
Cox & Moore