The Board of Mayor and Alderman on Monday unanimously voted to terminate an inter-local agreement with the City of Port Gibson to help them establish a natural gas utility system.
“After entering into the agreement, one of the City of Vicksburg’s Water and Gas Department employees resigned after allegedly being offered employment with the City of Port Gibson,” Mayor Flaggs wrote in a letter to Port Gibson Mayor Willie White.
“The City of Vicksburg entered into this agreement in good faith to assist the City of Port Gibson, not to lose employees to the City of Port Gibson.”
The cities entered into the agreement just two months ago on Mar. 7, shortly after Port Gibson obtained the natural gas utility from Mississippi River Gas that connects to Vicksburg’s gas utility system in southern Vicksburg. According to Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman, the Mississippi Public Service Commission determines the service areas provided by utility companies.
With the two utilities connected, any malfunction or issue with Port Gibson’s system could impact Vicksburg residents’ safety or access to gas services. Due to this, and to being a good neighbor, the City of Vicksburg agreed to allow the Director of Public Works and Assistant Director of Public Works to help the director of Port Gibson’s utility with setting up operations and maintenance of the system.
“According to the terms of the agreement, the termination goes into effect within 30 days although we are immediately ceasing to provide any assistance to the City of Port Gibson due to the breach of good faith and fair dealing implicit in all contracts,” City Attorney Kimberly Nailor explained. “The breach of good faith and fair dealing was derived due to the hiring of City of Vicksburg employees by the City of Port Gibson who were only supposed to be assisting with the establishment of their gas utility operation.”
The City of Port Gibson is supposed to reimburse the City of Vicksburg’s employees’ wages for time spent working in Port Gibson.
“We are working on submitting the reimbursement list to the City of Port Gibson so they can reimburse our workers for providing services there,” Nailor said.
Port Gibson Mayor Willie White responded to the board’s decision Monday afternoon.
“The City of Port Gibson would like to thank the City of Vicksburg for its assistance, but disputes the claim that we did not act in good faith. We did not intend to gain an employee through this agreement,” Mayor White said. “At the same time, nothing in it prevented us from considering anyone that made a request to be hired. The City of Port Gibson lost two employees to Vicksburg earlier this year from another department. We only acted on it and moved forward.”