Scrutinized Southaven conference comes in under budget

(WMC-TV) - At a conference in Biloxi Mississippi, the city of Southaven hosted a reception to rub elbows with city leaders across the state.

"We were $20,000 below what was budgeted," said Southaven Alderman, Ronnie Hale.

The Southaven Board of Alderman approved $25,000 in matching funds to be pulled from tourism dollars for the reception. Alderman Hale was one of three who voted against hosting the event.

"I just didn't think that with what's going on today that it was really a good use of the money," Hale said.

The reception allows leaders to promote Southaven, so Mayor Greg Davis says he raised more than $55 thousand dollars with the help of businesses who work with the city.

"Not only were they able to give back to the tax payers that they're getting paid from but they were able to expand their businesses hopefully," Davis said.

Even though Hale did not agree with Davis on everything, he said getting area businesses to foot the bill was the way to go.

"Our attorney assured us that there was nobody waiting for any type of contracts I personally feel that those should be the people we go after they're the ones getting the money from the tax payers," Hale said.

A little more than $4,000 was pulled from the city's tourism fund to pay for the reception. That money comes from out-of-towners who stay in Southaven hotels.

"I know we get some response from the reception, but again could we use that money elsewhere and still get the same response," Hale said.

"We do a lot of things and there are critics on both sides as to what we do but if you look back on the last 15 years I think most people would say that what this administration is doing seems to work," Davis said.

City leaders weren't sure about the possibility of hosting a reception next year.

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