With a new mayor taking office in Petal - along with four new members of the Petal Board of Aldermen - officials are holding Monday work sessions for the immediate future to help give city leadership more time to meet with department heads and make decisions.
The new sessions will be held at 6 p.m. on the first and third Monday of every month at Petal City Hall, followed by the regular meetings at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Previously, the board met only on those Tuesdays.
“This time of year, (we have) aldermen who have went to their first (Mississippi Municipal League) meeting, and they’ve got ideas and questions, and they want to see how we handle certain things,” said Mayor Tony Ducker, who served as Ward 5 Alderman before being elected to his current seat. “So this will be a good time to let them have some Q&A.
“We’re going to start having a good many more (work sessions), and I could see at some point where we might could get to where we maybe do one a month. We’re already in August, so we’re about to meet a good bit once we start talking about the budget, and we may even incorporate the work session as a budget session."
During the Monday work sessions, which are open to the public, the mayor and board members will be able to review the agenda, meet with other officials and have discussions as needed. That process will repeat on Tuesdays in a shorter fashion before the regular vote is taken on agenda items.
“I think this is a great time to bring in department heads, have deeper discussions on city operations,” Ducker said. “It allows the aldermen to highlight some of the things that are going on in their ward that they’re working on.
“It kind of gives them an idea as well, of the pace of how things get done. We’re trying to turn the tables so we can be more proactive, but there’s a process for that. So hopefully, with more communication and the understanding of how it works, this will make us more efficient on getting things done.”
The new process is similar to operations taken by Hattiesburg City Council, which holds work sessions at 4 p.m. on the first and third Monday of every month, followed the voting session at 5 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month.
Petal’s work sessions will not be live-streamed, although the Tuesday meetings will continue to be broadcast on the city’s YouTube channel.
"Say you had some issue going on; Monday night might be the best time to have that conversation,” Ducker said. “That’s where we’re not focused so much on the agenda, and we can focus on your one thing.
“I like what Hattiesburg does, but I don’t know if this will turn into that. Our meetings aren’t typically that long, and they used to do this before I was (an alderman). The group before us did, and that was one of the things that we kind of cut out."
Agendas and meetings for the Petal Board of Aldermen can be found online at www.cityofpetal.com.