A Mississippi mayor who is a Christian is allegedly withholding thousands of taxpayer funds allotted to county libraries and ordering them to remove all "homosexual materials" from their shelves.
Mayor Gene McGee of Ridgeland City in Madison County, Mississippi refused to release the first quarterly payment of 2022 for the county, which had been approved by the city. When asked by Director Tonja Johnson why the Christian mayor refused to release the funds, he said it was because the LGBT books in school libraries "went against his Christian beliefs."
"[Mayor McGee] explained his opposition to what he called 'homosexual materials' in the library, that it went against his Christian beliefs, and that he would not release the money as the long as the materials were there," Johnson said, as reported by the Daily Mail.
When Johnson explained to the mayor that the city serves the entire community and that the school library collection "reflects the diversity" of the community, the Christian mayor balked, arguing that while the library can serve the people, "he only serves the great Lord above."
The Madison County board confirmed that the $110,000 budget was already allotted to the library through a contract with the city and argued that the Christian mayor did not have the legal authority to withhold the funds over the materials in the county libraries. When asked by an attendee at a meeting if the Christian mayor had the authority to override the board's contract without the approval of the Board of Alderman, Bob Sanders, he said "no."
Johnson raised concerns over how withholding the $110,000 funds, which is about 5% of the library system's annual budget, would "definitely impact services" and would cause the "potential for staff members to lose their positions if the board is not able to move funding from something else to keep those positions open."
WND reported that the county library is considering legal action over the withholding of funds by the Christian mayor. Johnson underscored that the $110,000 is "taxpayer money" that is allotted through a "general-fund appropriation that the City of Ridgeland sends every year for daily operation of the library."
Johnson recounted how she asked McGee over the phone if his decision to withhold the funds were approved by the board of aldermen. When he confirmed that it wasn't, he said he "could have them make that decision."
On Wednesday morning, McGee spoke to the Mississippi Free Press to defend his actions, arguing, "We're holding [the money] right now because we found a large number of citizens who have complained about displays of sexual, whatever you want to call it, content. We're just responding to those citizens' complaints, and that's the position we're in."
McGee added that the last contract signed with the Madison County Library System was back in 2009 and that there hadn't been any new contracts recently. When asked if he had the authority to withhold the funds, however, the Christian mayor admitted, "That's a legal question. I don't know that I do or do not."