- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2017

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - After 105 years, Vicksburg is changing the rules of its city government.

Mayor George Flaggs and the city’s two aldermen voted unanimously to make the changes Tuesday.

The Vicksburg Post (https://bit.ly/2iRE9MQ) reports that the new charter requires the three officials to agree which of them will oversee each city department. Flaggs, a former state legislator, had struggled with the two aldermen in recent years over that division of authority.

“That’s probably the most progressive policy change in the history of this city,” Flaggs said. “It brought the charter into the 21st century.”

The new charter, which would take effect after city elections in July, would give the three-member board 30 days to agree on who’s over each department. The official designated would appoint the department head.

The changes also require any new department head to move into the city limits within six months of being appointed. Current appointees would be allowed to remain living outside the city.

Under the amendments, the city could also work directly on economic development. The city had previously delegated that authority to the Warren County Port Commission and others.

South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson said when changes were first proposed to the charter in 2015, he didn’t agree with it because he didn’t think every alderman and every mayor should be over the same departments permanently.

Because this charter change lets the mayor and aldermen decide who is over what department, he feels it is a better option.

“I thought that each administration should have the latitude to govern themselves and decide on its own the division it would govern,” Thompson said.

He said having structure is important so all three board members don’t step over one another. Thompson also wants to see the city grow through focusing on job creation.

Flaggs said the charter will go to the governor and the attorney general to make sure it is legal before going to the secretary of state’s office and back to the city to be adopted.

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Information from: The Vicksburg Post, https://www.vicksburgpost.com

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