Guest Post | Hancock County Alliance for Good Government Spring Newsletter

Spring is trying to arrive, but looks like Old Man Winter just doesn’t want to let go this year. We will be dreaming of these cool temps come August when we are in the middle of a Mississippi summer and heated campaign for the 4th Congressional District Seat. Actually the run-off should be mild compared to the primary between Palazzo and Taylor. The negative flyers are already arriving in mailboxes. Sure hope this doesn’t turn into the fiasco of 3 years ago when the PACS were stuffing our mailboxes and TV screens with all of this nonsense. If this does start, we hope both candidates will step forward and denounce them and demand a real debate on the real issues, and tell the PACS to get packing.

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors is in a quandary over insurance coverage for the spouses of county employees. Claims are much higher than in the past, but on the other hand, employees have not had raises for the past 5 years. This is supposed to be hashed out at the Supers’ meeting on April 7. It would be so nice for the taxpayers of Hancock County to be able to sit at home on their own computers and view the monthly expenditures of the Supervisors, but alas that still has not happened even though District 3 Supervisor Lisa Cowand said at their Nov. 2013 meeting minutes and dockets would be online by April of this year. We checked on Friday, April 4, and their last published docket is still from April 2009, even though we requested this now 5 months ago.

They have been submitting them to the Sea Coast Echo for publication, but that is at the expense of the taxpayers. It would be so much easier and less expensive to just put them on their website. Enough of taking them at their word on this issue.

The City of Waveland is preparing for Municipal Elections, but few have announced to run for office. As the summer gets closer we are sure announcements will be forthcoming for Mayor and Aldermen with the retirement of Ward I Alderman Lili Stahler. Time will tell, and we’ll be watching, and reporting.

Bay St. Louis officials are up to their ears in preparations for the opening of the Harbor in downtown. The dates to open were at one time March 1, then May 1, and now they are shooting for late July. The following figures were published in a brochure that was distributed at a boat show this weekend:
Bay St. Louis Harbor Rates: Utility Fees and Slip Rentals:

Utility Fees for all slips:
30 amps (minimum)–$30.00 a month
(2) 30 amps————$60.00 a month
50 amps—————- $50.00 a month
(2) 50 amps————$100.00 a month
100amps————— $100.00 a month–What vessel this size will ever be in that Harbor?

Slip Rental Rate for Pier I
in-state rate—$6.00 per ft. plus utility fee,
out-of-state rate—$7.00 per ft. plus utility fee,

Slip Rental for Piers 2,3,and 4
in state—$3.85 per ft. plus utility fee
out-of-state—$4.25 per ft. plus utility fee

This might be a slippery slope for some of our “out-of-state” folks who also pay taxes here on their weekend and summer homes. Anyway, those are the figures given out by the Harbor Commission and City Council.

Bay St. Louis is still having trouble getting folks to pay their utility bills. The delinquent totals for the last billing period were over $100,000, and this is not just users who are down on their luck. You should see some of those names.

The Mayor claims that there is a “story” behind every one of those delinquent accounts. We can just imagine? Actually, we feel sure there is also a story behind the accounts that are paid every month because some of those users are hurting too, but are trying to do the right thing. After all, this money is needed to maintain the system on a daily basis so that it can be working and available to all.

On the education front, the Governor has signed a bill reversing the late start date for school for various and sundry reasons. We would imagine politics has the most to do with it since state elections are next year. Parents are also upset over the change in the age requirement for Kindergarteners, which is now going to be Aug. 1 instead of Sept. 1. Add to this districts throughout the state adjusting to Common Core Standards. On Wed. April 9, the Miss. Association of Educators is sponsoring a rally “Strengthen Our Schools” at the Bay St. Louis Community Center from 5:pm to 7:30pm. The focus is going to be on the Miss. Legislature’s failure to fully fund education for a long time.

Personally, I think there are enough funds for education; it just has not arrived in the right place to make a difference. For example, the Sun Herald reported some four years ago that Miss. had the second highest paid State Superintendent of Education in the nation-yes! and the lowest test scores. The money is there, it just isn’t making it to the classrooms where the rubber meets the road. I stated some four years ago myself that tax dollars in education are like helium balloons–they rise to the top!! I firmly believe that when we get our priorities straight in this state, we’ll begin to see a difference.

It would be an interesting study to see just what percentage of our state legislators actually use the public schools for their children or use private education. When it is not coming home to you every day at 3:00 o’clock–out of sight-out of mind. They need to be reminded that their lack of interest in using the system does not relieve them of their responsibility to fund it “properly” that’s the word. Don’t just throw money “at” it, make sure you hit the target–the kids.

By the way, this is a state where the concept of Charter Schools, which give parents a choice, is not so popular to say the least. But, those who make the decisions about education in this state, as well as some educators, have certainly exercised their right to “choice” for their children.

Looks like our friends to the north in Diamondhead are inching closer to a Casino to relieve the tax burden on their residents. Good news for them, but maybe not so good for the Bay with now more competition in addition to the Silver Slipper.

We’ll continue to keep tabs on the elections, education, spending by our elected officials, and anything else that raises its head on the political front. If something comes your way, share it with us.

In closing, attend your local meetings. You cannot imagine what goes on, and it goes on and on when no one pays attention. Be there. It is your money, your community, and your future.

See you in September, if not sooner.

Lana Noonan
Ames Kergosien
Co-Chairmen, Hancock County Alliance for Good Government

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