Diamondhead asked to leave city hall
By Dwayne Bremer
Aug 16, 2013, 20:13
The Diamondhead Taxpayers Association (DTA) last month successfully challenged a promissory note the city attempted to have approved to purchase the city hall property at the location of the former Diamondhead Baptist Church at 5000 Diamondhead Circle.
Now, the group wants to take things a step further.
DTA sent a letter to city leaders this week asking the city to vacate the city hall and return all rent payments made so far.
"We are requesting that the money paid as lease payments to the Baptist church be returned to the city of Diamondhead," DTA Chairman Peter Kolf said in the letter. "The city violated Section 31-8-11 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 and consequently, payments made under an illegal lease must be repaid. The City of Diamondhead has no legitimate interest in the Baptist Church being used as a city hall and the city must vacate the premises immediately."
The city is currently in the first year of a three-year lease of the property. The city also has a purchase option. In the past eight months, the city has used the property as a full-service city hall. Prior to leasing the church property, the city operated out of offices at the Property Owners Association facility.
Earlier this year, city leaders agreed to secure a promissory note for $1.6 million.
The money was to be used to purchase the property and make some improvements.
DTA challenged the promissory note in Hancock County Chancery Court. Last month, Judge Jennifer Schloegel ruled that the city had violated the Lame Duck Statute, which does not allow municipalities to enter into long-term agreements in their final months in office.
Diamondhead city attorney Sean Tindell said Friday that the current lease on the city hall property is valid.
He said the city has received Kolf's complaint and is weighing all of its options going forward.
The city council is expected to discuss the matter at Monday's meeting.