Pelahatchie mayor, alderman blame each other for paycheck delay

At least five employees have now been without pay for six days as the rift between town officials widens.

Pelahatchie mayor, alderman blame each other for paycheck delay

PELAHATCHIE, Miss. (WLBT) - While some employees with the town of Pelahatchie wait for their past due paychecks, town officials can’t give a clear timeline on when those checks will be signed and sent out.

Ward 3 Alderman/Mayor Pro Tempore Margie Warren said the town’s mayor, Ryshonda Beechem, still won’t sign any checks -- including payroll checks -- because Beechem’s lawyer has asked her not to do so, citing the town’s recent financial issues.

Warren said they’re still waiting on the town’s bank to authorize other aldermen to be able to sign instead of Beechem, and had originally thought it would be approved this week, but that process has taken longer.

On Aug. 5, aldermen unanimously approved a measure that would allow three aldermen to be able to sign checks and warrants when the mayor is unavailable or unable to sign.

Three days later, they held a special meeting to approve those minutes.

Warren said those minutes have already been sent to the bank, but the financial institution now wants an audit of the town’s finances before it can move forward.

Beechem said the paycheck delay comes from how the board’s measure was worded -- because it didn’t mention specific board members or "all aldermen -- and the bank requires that.

Beechem also told 3 On Your Side through text messages that she called a special session earlier this week to approve two aldermen by name, but the mayor said no action was taken by the board on that measure.

At least five Pelahatchie employees, including the town clerk and a part-time police officer, still haven’t been paid.

Early Thursday, a member of the Pelahatchie Volunteer Fire Department said the department’s gas cards had been cut off due to nonpayment, but that turned out to be inaccurate.

Warren said further investigation revealed one of the firemen said his fuel card didn’t work and they assumed all cards had been disabled because of the mayor’s refusal to sign checks.

To her knowledge, Warren said the fuelman accounts are in good standing at this point.

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