BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - An overt admission from Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame came Monday afternoon. The two-term mayor admitted to recently paying back money the state auditor's office said had to be paid back to the city.
Fillingame said he wrote a personal check for more than $780 to cover a pay raise he recently granted to members of the city fire department before getting approval from the city council.
City council members were angry when they found out about the raises given to four firemen during what the mayor said were rank restructuring raises. Council members ended up resending the pay raises.
Fillingame claims he said from the beginning it was his mistake and he would accept full responsibility for the mishap.
"When it was a mistake very clearly made, and I've never said anything other than that was my error. It was truly just an error. I should have brought it to them the meeting prior to that, and I didn't. For whatever reason, I didn't get it on my agenda," said Fillingame. "We were taking it up a meeting late, and the guys had already been paid a pay. I had to look at it with the option of going back to these firemen and saying, look not only are you not going to get your raise going forward, but we're going to take back that one pay period. I chose not to do that. I wasn't going to do that. I told them point blank you're going to keep the money you got in error, and I'll pay for it, which I did."
The mayor denied reports that he was forced by the state auditor's office to pay the money back, but because of the state holiday, we could not verify that.