• 54°

Mayor: Veto override not timely, valid

WESSON – The board of aldermen’s override this week of a mayoralveto is invalid, town officials have been told.

Mayor Alton Shaw spoke with state officials Wednesday afteraldermen overrode his veto of a pay raise for town employee AnnJames on Tuesday night.

“The attorney general’s opinion states that when a mayorexercises the power to veto, board members can override it no laterthan the next lawfully convened regular or special-called meeting,”Shaw said.

The override was made more than a month after the mayor’s veto,making it unlawful.

Alderman Hollis Cowen Jr. questioned that interpretation.

“It looks like the board is the only one that has a time frame,”Cowen said.

Cowen referred to a recent disagreement about whether the mayorexercised his veto within the 10-day limit after receiving minutesfrom the March meeting.

During the March meeting, aldermen voted in executive session togive town employee James a $4-per-hour pay raise, increasing herpay rate from $8 to $12 an hour.

Shaw later vetoed the raise, and aldermen overrode his veto atthe May board meeting.

Cowen said board members did not override the veto at the Aprilmeeting because they were unsure of the state laws pertaining tothe matter and had asked for clarification.

“We’re sitting there trying to do the right thing, but we wereunaware of the laws,” Cowen said.

Aldermen also voted Tuesday to change James’ pay raise to $2 anhour and make the raise retroactive.

“It’s against the law to make pay raises retroactive,” saidShaw, quoting an attorney general’s opinion. “I will veto it on themerit that it is not a legal motion.”

Shaw said he planned to veto James’ new raise and submit aletter to each board member explaining his reasons for theveto.

“At the next board meeting, everything can be considered again,”Shaw said.

Cowen agreed the issue needed to be discussed at the Junemeeting.

“If it turns out that we made an error in the time of ourveto,

there’s always a potential for readdressing the issue,” Cowensaid.

The next scheduled meeting for the mayor and board of aldermenis 7 p.m., June 7 at town hall.