Southaven Mayor Greg Davis hopes to slash some of his hefty tab dealt by the state, including more than $40,000 from two Mississippi restaurants.
The state auditor demanded Davis repay the city a total of about $170,000, since they say he used tax payer dollars for personal expenses, from July 2009 through April 2011. The state says the expenses included a trip to Key West, Florida and counseling services.
The deadline for his tab is early December.
"I basically asked him (state auditor) where do you expect me to come up with $170,000, that's where the comment came, 'well if you can try and get some receipts and work with us, start with big ticket items," said Davis.
During the nearly two year period in question, Davis says he charged about $47,000 at two Mississippi restaurants, the bulk at Mesquite Chop House in Southaven. On some of those big tickets, Davis says he picked up tabs for his staff members.
The state says the city made payments to his personal credit card, but he didn't provide the necessary documents to backup the expenses.
The mayor plans to contact the businesses to find those receipts. Davis says he hopes to bring the more than $128,000 credit card total to $81,000, which he says he could handle.
"I don't think we did anything wrong, don't think Alderman did anything wrong, need to get better providing documentation," said Davis.
"We knew that there may be some shortfalls in our accounting process, some information vague at times," said Ronnie Hale, Southaven Alderman.
But since the state probe, Alderman Ronnie Hale says they've raised the bar. He says staff must provide detailed documents to back up expenses, plus, the city recently hired a daily audtior to keep tabs on staff. The auditor starts this week.
"I even have questions myself that I want answers for," said Lorine Kady, Alderman.
While Kady says no auditor approached her, she plans to take up talks with them, specifically a list of Davis' expenses.
"That's also a mystery to me at the time, we had no idea, when we heard the auditor' was coming some months ago, that it would ever be this much," said Kady.
Davis says he could use his campaign funds to bring the balance down, but doesnt' plan too. After all, on day 29 of his looming deadline, his constituents forked over $1,000 towards his audit woes.
"I've had lots of phone calls today, and actually people have made donations to help pay it back if it needs to come to that," said Davis.
If he doesn't pay up in 30 days, the state says Davis could face a civil suit.
The state says there's some flexibility on extensions for deadlines, but that's when someone is making payments.
They say they've requested receipts from Davis, since they launched their investigation in April.
They say documentation shown within 30 days could help the mayor's balance.
Alderman Greg Guy says they're in the process of drafting a resolution that won't allow Davis to use a personal credit card for city use.
If it passes, the mayor would only be able to use the city credit card.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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