COFFEEVILLE – A petition circulating in District Three in Yalobusha County landed in the hands of supervisors Tuesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, three people had asked that their names be removed, according to Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn.
Former District Three Supervisor Bailey Walker presented the petition asking for a general obligation road bond of up to $250,000 to be put before voters in a special election.
“We’ve got 510 signatures that want to put it before the people,” Walker told supervisors.
“The other four beats made it on their budgets without borrowing money,” Walker said. “Beat Five has more road miles and bridges and Beat One has more road miles and bridges,” Walker said. “Something is bad wrong.”
Walker, who was defeated by Surrette in 2003 also made several accusations regarding Surrette’s performance as a supervisor, but was cut short by Board Attorney John Crow
“You have a petition of 500 names. They call for the question to be put on the ballot. How does this relate to this petition?” Crow asked. “You understand, he is not here to defend himself?”
Both Surrette, who is currently battling cancer and intermittently missed meetings, and Supervisor Bubba Tillman were absent Tuesday. Tillman was ill.
Walker cut his prepared statement short and closed by saying that he did not think borrowing the money is right.
Both District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn and Board President Amos Sims backed up Crow, adding that he should wait until Surrette is at the meeting so he can defend himself.
The board voted 3-0 to tender the petition to Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney to verify the signatures.
“I want to clarify a couple of things,” Burney told Supervisors. “We pulled the registered voters as of August 2, 2008. You have to be a registered voter 30 days prior to signing the petition,” Burney.
With a total of 1930 voters, it would take 382 verified signatures to call an election, Burney added. State law requires 20 percent of qualified electors to file a written protest in order to bring the matter to an election. Only voters in District Three were eligible to sign to petition or will be eligible to vote on the issue because the road bond will be issued in that district.
“We will treat this the same as the beer petition. Once it is on our desk we get it off,” Burney said.
“How long do you think it will take, Daryl?” Crow asked.
“We are hoping we finish it tonight,” Burney answered. “If we don’t we will continue with it tomorrow.”
A recessed meeting was scheduled for Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in Coffeeville to deal with the petition after the verification process.
The petition also curtailed the timeline for the bonds to be sold, which means the board can’t levy the millage needed for the coming fiscal year by budgetary deadlines. The budget has to be adopted by September 15 which is also the date of a public hearing.
The petition also created a question of when the actual election will be held.
“I think it will probably fall on the general election,” Crow added.
“Whatever y’all set, I will do,” Burney said.