Mayor of Canton says some city leaders voted for the city to pay legal fees

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 10:15 PM CST
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CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - City of Canton Mayor William Truly says the city shouldn’t be responsible for paying four aldermen’s legal bills. He says during the time they were running for office in last year’s election, they were candidates and private citizens.

Now, the mayor is demanding those aldermen rescind their recent vote.

“Five members of my board have decided that they can use taxpayers’ money to pay their personal legal bills to their personal attorney,” Mayor Truly said.

Truly says two weeks ago, the board voted 5-2 to move forward with a $60,000 payment in connection with some of the aldermen’s legal fees from the 2021 election. In the agreement, the funds would be paid over an eight-month period.

However, the mayor vetoed the decision on Tuesday and says there was no documentation of how the board arrived at that amount. But, the board then came back and overrode the mayor’s veto.

“As the mayor, I inform these aldermen that you cannot use taxpayers’ money or city funds to pay these legal fees that you created by running as a candidate in an election contest in 2021,” Mayor Truly said.

While the mayor takes issue with the aldermen’s decision, he admits that Canton’s attorney Kimberly Banks said it was in fact something the board can do.

Truly says Banks told the four aldermen, Fred Esco, Tim Taylor, Alderwomen Mon Gilkey, and Rodriquez Brown, that she received an opinion from the Attorney General’s office that “allows” them to have their legal bills paid by the city. Truly disagrees...

“They relied on her opinion, they didn’t listen to me, they didn’t listen to the state auditor’s office, they ignored the codes of Mississippi that prohibit this behavior, they simply relied on her opinion which is something I have never seen.” Truly said.

Mayor Truly is now demanding for all of the aldermen to rescind their vote or he will take them to court.

“I would just like for all of the aldermen to rescind their vote,” he said. “If we have to go to court over this we will. I’m not going to allow money to be freely taken because the city attorney states she has some kind of opinion that no one has seen but her.”

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