JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson’s Chief Administrative Officer is officially reprimanded by the City Council for over payment of a contract.
City leaders say they learned about the charges Tuesday, but even more bills kept coming until January.
Those bills weren’t paid, but today the mayor defended CAO Dr. Robert Blaine, calling the over payment a simple error that his administration brought to the council.
"It was made an honest error because it was believed that there was no end date to it," said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba during a news conference Wednesday.
The mayor vehemently defends Dr. Robert Blaine and said the excessive payment of $52,000.00 to Expert Professional Services was an error that his administration brought to the attention of the council.
Tuesday in executive session the council voted unanimously to censure Blaine.
Ward representatives approved a contract with the company in September for emergency work to correct problems with the water-sewer billing system.
The council order was not to exceed $48,000.00.
Expert Professional Solutions is owned by Akil Bakari.
He served on the Mayor’s transition team and his father’s when he ran for office.
Mayor Lumumba called the censure political and denied allegations that he had a hand in awarding contract.
“I don’t think anyone steers a contract and then self reports an error right and then after self reporting an error they support action to take legal action against the company,” Lumumba added.
Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks questions the oversight but said the council did not go so far as a no vote of confidence in Blaine.
"This contract does not reflect what's in this order and so that's the importance of making sure that there's proper procedure, and the censure was to make that the CAO took the seriousness of this to begin to have corrective action and follow the procedure," said Banks.
Blaine made no comment about the council censure.
We reached out to Expert Solutions and are awaiting a response.
The council is now requesting input from the State Auditor’s Office.