By Associated Press - Monday, December 23, 2019

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - A north Mississippi flood control district will stop collecting property taxes while it seeks to resolve claims that board members illegally paid themselves more than $350,000.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports the Town Creek Master Water Management District filed an agreement in court last week to temporarily halt tax collections.

State Auditor Shad White found in March that district board members were limited to payments of $12.50 per meeting, but had over the years paid themselves as much as $600 per meeting. The state later sued, seeking $523,000, which includes interest and investigative costs.

The district maintains 24 dams and can collect property taxes in parts of Lee, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Union counties.

The district agreed in court to seek an independent study offering recommendations about annual dam maintenance, cash reserves and staffing needs.

The district has enough cash to continue normal operations until the study is completed, District lawyer Tom Wicker said. A chancery judge could reorganize the district and reinstate taxes.

When he first announced his charges of improper payments, White also questioned the legality of the district’s tax levy and whether it has banked too much cash.

Wicker hopes the study will show the necessity of paying to maintain the dams.

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