Mayor of Southaven has his wages garnished

The auditor of Mississippi recently announced that the state will garnish the Southaven mayor's paychecks to help recover funds that the mayor was ordered to repay last year. This decision demonstrates that few people can escape the law when they have failed to make payments pursuant to a court order. Although the mayor may not be financially devastated by having his wages garnished, his situation is a lesson for many individuals in Mississippi. It reminds people that wage garnishment can result in financial ruin if they are unfamiliar with the law and do not respond quickly and appropriately to possible garnishment.

Last year, Southaven mayor Greg Davis was ordered to repay the city for unauthorized expenses. Davis has already repaid $96,000. He still allegedly owes $70,000 to the city. The auditor claims that she would not have proceeded with a garnishment action against the mayor if he had simply acted in good faith to repay the city. The mayor contests the garnishment action. In fact, he filed a temporary restraining order to prevent his income from being garnished until the court resolves the matter.

Like the mayor, there are many actions that a Mississippi resident can take in response to wage garnishment. Wage garnishment is the process by which a portion of an individual's personal earnings is withheld by an employer in order to repay a debt. Only a person's disposable earnings are subject to garnishment -- the amount left after taxes and other deductions are made.

Garnishment can have serious impacts on an individual's livelihood. For instance, the law allows around 50 percent of an individual's wages to be garnished for child support and alimony. Fortunately, there are several solutions available to avoid garnishment or lessen the financial impacts it may have. Individuals can seek a restraining order, like the mayor. They can also work out an informal agreement. Additionally, individuals can seek protection through bankruptcy. The garnishment laws provide that garnishment does not apply to certain bankruptcy orders.

Source: Clarion Ledger, "State auditor will garnish Southaven mayor's check," Aug. 8, 2012

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