HANCOCK COUNTY ALLIANCE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT OCTOBER 2013 NEWSLETTER
For those of you familiar with the Broadway musical, “Cabaret” the local, state, and national news is beginning to sound like a refrain from one of the shows numbers: “Money.” This past month has been a numbers game for those of us studying all of the figures.
For example there are $259,955 in delinquent utility bills in Bay St. Louis. Seven of these delinquent accounts were city employees until we published the list, then one paid. Shedding light can sometimes have positive results.
There is $187,000 delinquent utility bills in Waveland which includes a former Police Chief and Mayor. We hope these accounts can be cleaned up so the rest of us don’t have to continue to carry the burden because many on these lists are more than able to pay. And, it is only going to get worse now that both cities have increased rates. For those who just will not pay, there is a remedy, if our public officials will use it, and that’s cutting them off. They sure wouldn’t get by with this with Miss. Power, Coast Electric, or Cable TV. To review the complete lists of delinquent accounts go to Slabbed.org.
Thousands of parcels of property in Hancock County have been abandoned by the owners which results in a loss of ad valorem taxes when they are returned to the state. The latest hit to the ad valorem tax base in the county is the new formula for assessing taxes on the Section 42 and Section 8 housing complexes. According to Jimmie Ladner, this loss could fall in the laps of the rest of us to make up the difference. We may not like the news, but at least Jimmie will always tell it like it is.
At the Bay St. Louis city council meeting on Oct. 8, the Mayor requested a $323,000 line of credit. When the council asked what for, he replied, “For no more than we owe.” Then 10 days later at a workshop meeting he revised the number up to $500,000. What happened for $177,000 in those 10 days? The Bay owes the Hancock County Solid Waste and Utility Authorities a total of $252,000 for some 3 months in arrears. What is happening to that portion of the users’ utility payments once they arrive at city hall? Shouldn’t that be sent directly to the Utility Authorities? After all, Councilman Seal claims the vast majority of users pay, so why aren’t the Authorities getting their money? The Bay’s Mayor serves as Chairman of one of these Authorities, and a Bay councilman serves with him.
Another numbers game is the enrollment figure for the Bay-Waveland School District. The Superintendent always reports on the percentage of students in daily attendance; but a percentage of what? This is where part of their state funding comes from, and the formula for this has been tightened up this year.
The Bay St. Louis Municipal Harbor Commission is up and running holding their meetings every Tuesday at 3:00 pm at the Firehouse on Main St. It seems odd that this group of educated, successful businessmen has to have Buzz Olsen running their meetings. They elected among themselves a Chairman: Lee Seal. I’d like to see the Commission function on their own and report back to the Council. After all, it appears that the city has more to learn from the Commissioners than the other way around. When it is all said and done, there are some BIG MONEY obligations coming down the pike for this city in need of a “line of credit.”
The Diamondhead Taxpayers Association is keeping close tabs on their officials from the get go. This is good, and they seem determined in their efforts to demand accountability for their tax dollars. I attended their last meeting, and they are interested in meeting with the Alliance on some “county-wide” issues. Should be interesting.
And speaking of the County, Sheriff Adams is trying to function with the budget cut the Supervisors requested of him. In an effort not to do any lay-offs, he has decided to pull security on the Courthouse and Government Complex on the highway—this has “some folks” worried. I think they have 30 days of services left from the Sheriff if they can’t work things out.
We plan to approach the Supervisors again soon on our request for them to update their website with current minutes and dockets. We haven’t seen one of their dockets in the Echo in quite a while either. Got to correct this.
While we all continue to tighten our belts in anticipation of increased insurance, utility, and cost of living expenses, we’ll keep our elected officials on their toes too. We attend as many public meetings as time will allow in an effort to get information first hand, but if you become aware of any issues you would like to pass on to us, please do so. Your input is always welcome.
See you next month,