SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - Who's watching the money? Plans are moving forward on a new senior center in Southaven, Mississippi. Embattled Mayor Greg Davis is leading the charge and says work on the project is helping bring the city back together.
But the mayor, who is in trouble with the state and taxpayers for his spending habits, won't have anybody watching how he spends the city's dollars this time.
All Southaven aldermen voted to move forward with plans for a new senior center this week. Mayor Greg Davis vetoed a measure that would have required board approval each step of the way.
"I have the authority under state law to spend moneys that have been budgeted without prior approval," Davis says. "The bills will come in. They still have to approve all the payment of those bills, just don't have to have pre-approval on that."
The mayor says that would have tied his hands too much.
"I think the senior adult building brought a lot of things to a head that the board and I have been struggling with since February."
Such as the state investigation into his spending, the board's vote for his resignation and cry for more transparency.
"Whatever may have happened in the past it's time to focus on the future," Davis says. "I can't emphasize enough what this office is going to do to make sure the senior adult building is built during this term of office."
The board of alderman unanimously approved an architect this week. That's a step forward, but there are plenty of other hurdles to cross. Everyone wants the center to be built, but right now no one can say for sure how the city's going to cover the cost.
No matter what, Davis says the promised $7 million facility will become a reality.
"I've made it very clear regardless of what happens to the tourism tax." The city's penny for parks tax will be repealed in 2014. Davis is pushing for an extension. Without it, Southaven can't borrow money to build the senior center, leaving questions about how the city will pay for it.
"This administration is going to find a way to build the senior adult building without raising taxes," the mayor says.
He wants to begin construction by next February. Davis says they plan to take buses of seniors to the state capitol when the legislature convenes next year to rally for the tourism tax.