(WMC-TV) - Mississippi auditors say Southaven mayor Greg Davis must pay back thousands of dollars he was wrongly reimbursed.
State auditor Stacey Pickering said the city of Southaven reimbursed Davis for travel expenses that totaled more than $170,000 that he shouldn't have received.
Pickering said figure represents travel and other expenses paid for by the city of Southaven over a two and a half year period, including trips by the mayor to Key West Florida and a counseling center in Arizona.
"The taxpayers of Southaven deserve to know their tax dollars are not only being spent properly, but within the context of the state of Mississippi," he said.
Pickering said Davis has 30 days to repay the money or the state will file a lawsuit. Even if the money is repaid, auditors say that prosecutors could still file charges against Davis.
Davis denied he was guilty of any wrongdoing. He said all trips were related to city business and expenditures approved by the board of aldermen, but admitted better record keeping is in order.
"It's an expensive lesson to learn, but in the end I think our citizens will feel a whole lit better, our Board of Aldermen will feel a while lot better, and so will my staff," he said.
Davis also had a message for the folks who alerted the state - people who may have political or personal issues with him.
"Let people run their mouths, do what they need to do," he said. "Someday, if you're going to take me on, you've got to come out of the dark and let me know who you are. So, we'll worry about that on that day."
The seven-month investigation was launched after the mayor billed the city for a trip to Arizona for stress and anger management last year.
Davis said he received training to cope with issues that had cropped up after years of public service. He said counselors found that his time as mayor had made him detached and unemotional.
Pickering was very surprised a city the size of Southaven did not have a better bookkeeping system. He said it is possible Southaven's Board of Alderman may be liable if the money is not repaid on time.
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