Writing checks that can’t be cashed: Bay St Louis is broke

Horrifying isn’t too strong of a term to describe what I witnessed back on May 6th during the City Council’s finance workshop.  Hopefully I’ll be able to explain why I was horrified as the subject matter is somewhat technical in Mississippi Municipal Finance.  From a big picture standpoint, financially the City of Bay St Louis is a rogue municipality, making loans without any statutory authority to do so while spending fantasy tax revenue, unrealistically budgeted and never received.  Worst of all is the Mayor is in deep denial – either that or he gets his kicks from telling whopper after whopper about the state of the City’s finances. It does not serve the public interest.

To me, there were two moments that encapsulated the entire two hour workshop the first was when auditor Jennifer Bell was giving her presentation on the internal control and legal compliance findings.

To set up her finding on purchasing, rumors have been swirling since last August the City was financing its deficit using what is most commonly known as its trade payables, or in Mississippi Governmental parlance its claims docket.  Whether a local government or a struggling business, when cash gets tight the first way operating cash flow is financed without a bank is to simply let bills ride until the money comes in to pay them.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul is a time honored way of buying time in the business world for cash starved entities public and private. Unfortunately Mayor Fillingame and City Clerk David Kolf have been telling whoppers about the City’s cash flow being A-OK for months so when the rubber met the road the Mayor essentially accused the auditor of fabricating her results.  Dwayne Bremer’s story on the workshop made it sound like it some sort of difference of opinion.  Here is the salient snippet:

Falgout said the draft audit states that the city is experiencing a cash-flow problem and that bills were being paid in order of priority, rather than order received.

Fillingame said that he challenged the assertion and pointed to the fact that the audit is not yet complete.

Audit results are true/false propositions folks. Either the City has delayed paying its bills for 100 days or they didn’t. And since business do not run their bills late 100 days for no reason, a cash flow problem would be the only reason it would do so.  Here is the draft finding:

BSL 2013 Audit Finding Cap 1

One can’t exist in the business community here in the Bay without hearing first hand accounts about the trials and tribulations of City venders being paid extremely late for the goods and services they provided the City, so it doesn’t surprise me in the least the auditor found several instances of these very late payments in their non-payroll triple-purpose cash disbursement test. Unfortunately, Hizzoner’s denials to the bitter end also do not surprise me as this situation is akin to a spend thrift hiding his spending addiction.

The second moment in the workshop that encapsulated how bad the financial leadership is in the Fillingame administration was after Auditor Bell informed the City Council that the $500,000 loan the City made in November 2013 was “without statutory authority”.  Councilman Boudin read the minutes of that prior meeting when the loan was approved to the Mayor, wherein the Mayor clearly indicated to the City Council that the loan complied with all applicable legal requirements.  After Boudin read the minutes of that meeting to the Mayor, Hizzoner simply smiled and shrugged his shoulders.  You’d think by now that on financial issues the City Council would realize Hizzoner’s word is worthless but that is where we cross into Alice in Wonderland territory because it is becoming clear certain City Councilman would rather shirk their fiduciary duty to comply with the law in favor of going along to get along so long as Mayor Fillingame pats them on the head and tells them it is OK.

The draft audit is chock full of major audit findings, including Material Weaknesses but there is a short finding that contradicted the premise of the Mayor’s latest financial plan, which is incorrectly termed a strategic plan by the Administration.  Dwayne Bremer over at the Echo explains:

Bay St. Louis city leaders on Tuesday discussed a myriad of issues at a budget workshop, including deficiencies in the city’s upcoming audit; restructuring the city’s debt; and dedicating a new millage to pay it off – which could result in a tax increase.

The workshop began with Mayor Les Fillingame asking the council to consider his strategic plan, which he said will solve many of the city’s financial problems.

So does everyone get this? The Mayor blames the looming general fund insolvency on upcoming debt payments. He wants to refinance that debt so he can use the money set aside for debt service to plug the operating shortfall and deficit, that is if there is any money set aside for the debt payments. This finding from the 2013 audit draft exposes the fallacy:

BSL 2013 Audit Finding Cap 2

Is it me or does this audit finding indicate the City has not set aside any money for debt repayment as required by the restrictive covenants attached to the bonds? And if the City was required to set aside money for debt service repayment why hasn’t it? That’s a rhetorical question because we already knew the City was robbing Peter to pay Paul. Mayor Fillingame is also evidently even willing to break the City’s debt covenants to conceal the extent of the problems. Finding 2013-6 reinforces my point as it discloses that the City even remitted its State Withholding payments late in the process subjecting the City to draconian Department of Revenue penalties.

Finally, the Mayor gave a very convoluted cash flow and budget update and disclosed that his numbers were predicated on the Water and Sewer fund making the General fund whole.  According to the financial section of the 2012 City Audit, at September 30, 2012 the Water and Sewer Fund owed the General Fund $476,492.  According to the Mayor, the Water and Sewer Fund still owed the $350,000 it borrowed in November 2013 and that money could not be repaid unless the City’s debt was refinanced.

The problem is there is no statutory authority to refinance debt that was originally incurred without statutory authority. Further the City can not pay its operating expenses aka the accumulated deficit via bond issue.

So, after leading the City Council up fools hills last November to take out what Councilman Falgout now terms an “illegal loan”, Hizzoner wants to lead the gang straight back up to the same spot, this time doubling down in the process. And the council voted 4-3 to begin that process thus the Alice in Wonderland type quality to the entire affair. It was the failure of the Mayor and Council to timely and sufficiently address the financial problems in the Water and Sewer fund that got us to this place.  It appears the solution de jour is to kick the can down the road while the Mayor makes it up as he goes.

The next workshop on the City’s finances is set for May 20.  Stay tuned.

39 thoughts on “Writing checks that can’t be cashed: Bay St Louis is broke”

  1. Well with all that money, maybe the mayor went on vacation and took the entire government with him. Or better yet, they went on an important fact finding mission.

    Don’t you just hate it when you get back in town and have a whole stack of bills looking at you?

  2. To my mind one important question: Were the sinking funds ever established as required?

    Two distinct issues, the proper handling of funds to pay the regular interest payments and the proper handling of funds to pay the lump sum principal payment. The first does not accumulate a large lump sum for a date far in the future, the second by design should. Under normal circumstances, the latter possibly more attractive to ” financial monkey business” than the former due to the larger sum and the obligation to be satisfied with the funds much further in the future.

    Quoting the draft audit “To be in compliance with bonded debt covenants” this seems to imply more than one indenture with this covenant, but perhaps I misunderstand and there should have been only one sinking fund.

    Particularly in the case where funds should have been set aside on a regular basis to accumulate to the sum total of the principle due, if these funds were ever properly set aside; then when did they go, and where and how did they go?

    1. I’m fairly certain there are such covenants attached to both the General Fund and Enterprise Fund (Water and Sewer) Bonds. The borrowings appear to be under the statute that does not have accompanying restricted property taxes to pay it off. In 2012 there was a large interfund transfer from the General Fund to make the payment with no revenues dedicated strictly to debt service. That tells me the problem here may be older than the 2013 fiscal year.

  3. Over the border we have the State Bond Commission which is well known for approving politically desired “bonds” (which defined includes nearly every borrowing mechanism).
    What also comes to mind are the opinions of bond counsel who lenders rely on for opinions. Now, Doug, how the world did a bond counsel sign off on your local kleptocrats and if circumstances have changed, how are they not now on the hook by not at least cautioning the kleptocrats, even if in CYA.
    Given most bonds I’ve seen call for a pledge of all accounts, got to believe those “first calls” for payment will show up with deficiencies elsewhere. Hate to see your residents resemble New York city of the 1970s, right, Doug?

  4. Doug,
    I understand there are some new titles going around the Bay for Hizzoner:
    Les Longo or
    The “LOAN Ranger”
    With all of the legal transgressions pointed out by the auditor last week, it makes you wonder what in the world the city attorney has been doing to earn his keep. Isn’t he supposed to being them legal? But to play the Devil’s advocate, it has to be difficult to work with Fillingame, because communication is not his strong point. But having said that, I think the attorney should have been looking over all these documents to see if they were in order on the fire truck and the loan. And, if he did, and passed on them, the city has yet another problem.

  5. Empire see Haddanuff’s comment. There was no bond attorney because the Mayor went to the local bank and made a standard 365 day business loan for $500,000. He then took the proceeds and divided them between the General and Enterprise Fund (150K to General, 350K to Water & Sewer). The Mayor and Council then pretended that $150,000 of the $500,000 was borrowed in the general fund under the tax anticipation note statute. To paraphrase from that famous Dan Quayle VP debate from long ago, I know tax anticipation note and what the Mayor did was not tax anticipation.

    Its tempting to call this place Mayberry and Hizzoner Gomer Pyle, but that would be an insult to both Mayberry and Gomer. The bottom line is that in the area of Mississippi Muni Finance, no one at City Hall has a clue.

      1. Probably that they were helping out would be my guess. Mr. Mayor has put several people and outside entities in a precarious position.

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions ~ Proverb

        1. One would still have to see what the city pledged, either to the new line of credit or to the existing revolving loan, Doug. Unless your mayor has heavy juice with the bank, certainly the bank don’t want to take an extra risk. And, Doug, your local kleptocrats may get more than they bargain for when the chips fall, making public comments that put this loan into a particular category – as you common law types would say, does collateral estoppel ring a bell – certainly the bank’s attorney can adjust his face long enough to make that argument if you have litigation involving competing demands on funds ? True, a black robed jester might engage in cutting the baby in half or such to keep things going until the magic tax fairy comes in with new lucre.
          Ultimately the fair taxpayers get visited with another dose of afflictions, but that is par for course.

            1. Thanks for posting that.

              Under “REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES. Borrower represents and warrants to Lender, as of the date of this Agreement, as of the date of each disbursement of loan proceeds, as of the date of any renewal, extension or modification of any Loan, and at all times any indebtedness exists:” something which got my attention:

              “Financial Information. Each of Borrower’s financial statements supplied to Lender truly and completely disclosed Borrower’s financial condition as of the date of the statement, and there has been no material adverse change in Borrower’s financial condition subsequent to the date of the most recent financial statement supplied to Lender. Borrower has no material contingent obligations except as disclosed in such financial statements.”

              Under “AFFIRMATIVE COVENANTS Borrower covenants and agrees with Lender that, so long as this agreement remains in effect, Borrower will: another item which drew my attention:

              ” Financial records. Maintain its books and records in accordance with GAAP, applied on a consistent basis, and permit Lender to examine and audit Borrower’s books and records at all reasonable times.”

              Of course from the lender’s perspective, the taxpayers will pay the loan, the interest and any associated collection costs, one way or the other.

              1. Spot on, gents, you’ve supplied the expected collateral duties/representations. Looks like someone need “update or “revise” certain representations to avoid a nonfeasance.

                Too bad for you there are no hot shot disabled attorneys wanting to put a scalp on the wall.

              2. I do not think there is anything stopping the citizens from becoming their own DA here in Mississippi. All it takes is a decent lawyer and resolve.

  6. So Sad !!! How can the City Council allow someone to destroy such a Wonderful City. Are they asleep at the wheel? Where are the citizens of Bay St. Louis?

    Where is the accountability? You can’t keep spending if there is NO money in the checkbook. The Council should report the Mayor to the State Audotors Office in accordance with the Laws he is sworn to abide by when he took office.

    There is talk about increase in property taxes? Maybe they should look at an increase in Sales Tax. That way everyone pays, not just the business and home owners. More taxes would totally devastate the area. Property owners are struggling with the Insurance Issue and current Property Taxes.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !! TAKE THE CHECKBOOK AWAY FROM THE MAYOR BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE IF NOT ALREADY TOO LATE.

    1. Sales tax is authorized at the state level only with no local option. The problem comes from the Utility Fund and it is in the Utility Fund where the correction needs to happen. Current rates are not bringing in enough money to pay back the General Fund and the fund related debt service. The contrast in monthly bill amounts from Waveland – approx $80/month, to Diamondhead – approx $60/month to BSL where my last bill was $46 is striking. The math here is not very hard, it is a matter of finding the political will to make the Utility Fund pay for itself.

      Increasing Property taxes is a separate issue in my opinion since that funding source should pay for General Government, which is having cash flow problems mainly because somewhere close to $500,000 in General Fund cash is stuck funding prior year Utility Fund losses.

  7. The Secretary of State and State Auditor need to come to the Bay and take the check book away from all of them, and get the city’s books back in order.
    I hate to say this but it was said to me this week, and I really can’t disagree: The administration in the Bay is like an alcoholic, and sometime you have to let them hit rock bottom before any progress can be made.
    Personally, I don’t think any progress will be made until the paychecks start bouncing. Now, that will get everyone’s attention. The citizens in the Bay had better start attending some meetings before they wake up to some unpleasant realities. As long as it looks like no one cares, the administration and those four councilmen (Reed, Seal, Compretta, and McDonald) are gonna help that Mayor put the screws to everyone. I actually have no sympathy for the folks in the Bay as long as they stay home and don’t fight for their city.
    As far as going up on sales tax, wouldn’t that have to come from the state level?

  8. Doug,
    I think it needs to be pointed out in a public forum such as this that on the last page of the Business Loan Agreement between the city of Bay St. Louis and The First Bank, the City Clerk, David Kolf, and the Mayor, Leslie Fillingame, both signed the following statement to the bank:
    Financial Condition: By signing this authorization, Borrower represents and warrants to Lender that the information provided above is true and correct and that there has been no material adverse change in borrower’s financial condition as disclosed in borrower’s most recent financial statement to lender. This authorization is dated November 26, 2013.
    WHAT? I understand the folks responsible for paying bills in city hall stopped paying some pretty big ones as far back as July of 2013. What say you about this ?! Look up the words” represent” and” warrant “in Webster’s. If all of this is true, why can’t Carroll Gordon’s request for public records of financial statements be complied with by this city clerk? Wonder how the State Banking Commission would react to this?

    1. Mr. Gordon’s trials and tribulations getting public records is actually fodder for the next installment in this series. I personally can’t wait to see the September 2013 numbers along with something more current than December, which was the last set of financials made available to the public without having to fight a PRR battle with the Administration.

      The lack of transparency is disturbing.

    2. Thanks for posting that.

      Under “REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES. Borrower represents and warrants to Lender, as of the date of this Agreement, as of the date of each disbursement of loan proceeds, as of the date of any renewal, extension or modification of any Loan, and at all times any indebtedness exists:” something which got my attention:

      “Financial Information. Each of Borrower’s financial statements supplied to Lender truly and completely disclosed Borrower’s financial condition as of the date of the statement, and there has been no material adverse change in Borrower’s financial condition subsequent to the date of the most recent financial statement supplied to Lender. Borrower has no material contingent obligations except as disclosed in such financial statements.”

      Under “AFFIRMATIVE COVENANTS Borrower covenants and agrees with Lender that, so long as this agreement remains in effect, Borrower will: another item which drew my attention:

      ” Financial records. Maintain its books and records in accordance with GAAP, applied on a consistent basis, and permit Lender to examine and audit Borrower’s books and records at all reasonable times.”

      Of course from the lender’s perspective, the taxpayers will pay the loan, the interest and any associated collection costs, one way or the other.

  9. I attend Council meetings as my health allows and often return home wondering WTF? I’ve had a series of strokes & I’m fully aware that my brain doesn’t work the way that it used to & even I can see that this is a joke. During the Public Forum portion of the meetings, citizens question the Mayor’s dealings, he spouts off his psychobabble & then it’s dropped. Are the citizens of Bay St. Louis Stepford Wives? Where are all the intelligent people that comment on this site? It’s about to the point that I’m going to speak at the meeting, call the Mayor out, and embarrass myself … somebody’s got to do it!

  10. Cajuncutie,
    It has been my observation for a very long time now that the best thing Hizzoner has going for him is that the people in Bay St. Louis simply do not care about their city and where it is headed. The meetings are poorly attended, but just wait til the taxes go up and the utility rates double. When you hit ’em in the pocket book, that’s all it takes.
    Not only do the people not care, but 4 members of the Council are asleep at the wheel. It is time to stop all this silly foolishness about the Bay being one of the best little towns to visit, and clean up the books and make it worthy to actually settle down in.
    By the way, Doug, I agree that Carroll Gordon deserves combat pay; actually more than those he is fighting deserve their pay which comes from Carroll’s tax dollars.
    Under the current administration, the Bay is a zoo, and somebody had better start addressing the “elephant” in the room–where has all the money been going when Coast Electric and Miss. Power have to wait for theirs? When the Mayor and City Clerk start using terminology like “restructuring our debt” what does that sound like? Isn’t that the language of bankruptcy?!! But the Fab Four–McDonald, Compretta, Seal, and Reed just keep looking at Hizzoner to see how to vote.

  11. The city of Bay St Louis has produced one GASB financial report to the council in 10 years. The one report, May 31, 2013, if illegal cash transfers from Utilities are deducted, current liabilities exceed current assets by close to two million dollars. There are no GASB reports for 2014. Does the audit exam the financial reporting requirements?

    1. Each financial report that results from the annual audit is, by definition, in accordance with the GASB standards. These reports can be found online at the state auditor’s office website.

      On the 20th, I understand Auditor Bell will present the final audit to the Mayor and Council. (Provided the Mayor stops stonewalling and furnishes the Auditor with the City’s Corrective Action Plan for inclusion in the report, which is what she she said she lacked to complete the report per the last meeting).

  12. Hopefully, Council President McDonald reads Slabbed because I am going to ask for a “point of order” right now for her to allow the Auditor to speak first. Two weeks ago the City Council advertised a workshop meeting with their auditing firm, and the Agenda that they handed out to the public stated the only speaker was Jennifer Bell. Then Mrs. McDonald looks at the Mayor and asks him how he wants to handle the meeting. Mrs. McDonald, this is YOUR MEETING. He promptly went to the podium, and filibustered for 1 hour and 15 minutes trying to talk the Council into “restructuring the debt” while the auditor who was actually on the agenda sat and waited. Mrs. McDonald, don’t get the cart before the horse this Tuesday. Run your meeting appropriately out of respect for your constituents who elected you, not the Mayor. He will have his place on YOUR agenda immediately after the workshop at the regular meeting like he always does.
    It is imperative for the Council to hear the final report from the Auditor before making any decisions.
    Would they have surgery for severe abdominal pain before having a MRI? Who knows, they might.

    1. Have you heard anything about whether or not teh SPCRCI* plans to address anyone?
      I think I heard someone wants a public health alert issued for Rectal-Cranial Inversion. Unknown whether there are only terminal cases, or whether some cases are reversible. Scary to think if it becomes contagious!

      *Society for Prevention and Cure of Rectal-Cranial Inversion

  13. Various documents are apparently available as continuing disclosure having to do with outstanding and recently retired bonds issued by BSL. Later today or tomorrow I may have time to check that the links are good and post them here with a list of what the linked documents are described to be.

      1. Oh they are, at EMMA IIRC. Just didn’t take time to check the links. Looked like nearly 10 years worth. Kind of a practice not post links without at least a cursory look. You ever know what’s there unless you look.

              1. Oh I definitely will do later this tonight when I have enough uninterrupted time. My skippy comment had to do with the speed of your response to my 3:10, your 3:12 already there before I could add my 3:13 clarification.

      2. Clarify that a little bit more, was previous looking for recent continuing disclosure (within the past year) when I was looking last week. There was of course more, just not what exactly I was looking for.

  14. Here is the start for those so inclined. I may have time to get something additional posted by tomorrow. These documents are at http://emma.msrb.org/IssueView/IssueDetails.aspx?id=MS60054

    Go to above link select tab “Continuing Disclosure” and the following are available hotlinked at that site.

    Annual Financial Information and Operating Data

    Economic and Demographic Information, 2009 Audit and 2012 Budget for the year ended 09/30/2011 Document2 posted 04/11/2012 (2.2 MB) details

    Economic and Demographic Information, 2009 Audit and 2012 Budget for the year ended 09/30/2011 Document1 posted 03/30/2012 (2.5 MB) details

    Annual Financial Operating Data and 2011 Budget for the year ended 09/30/2010 posted 05/20/2011 (277 KB) details

    Audited Financial Statements or CAFR

    2009 Audit and 2010 Audit for the year ended 09/30/2010 posted 04/11/2012 (2.2 MB) details

    2009 Audit and 2010 Audit for the year ended 09/30/2010 posted 03/30/2012 (2.5 MB) details

    2010 Unaudited, 2009 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (Unauidted), 2008 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (unaudited) and 2007 Audited Statemen for the year ended 09/30/2010 Document1 posted 01/18/2011 (1 MB) details

    2010 Unaudited, 2009 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (Unauidted), 2008 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (unaudited) and 2007 Audited Statemen for the year ended 09/30/2010 Document2 posted 01/18/2011 (206 KB) details

    2010 Unaudited, 2009 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (Unauidted), 2008 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (unaudited) and 2007 Audited Statemen for the year ended 09/30/2010 Document3 posted 01/18/2011 (103 KB) details

    2010 Unaudited, 2009 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (Unauidted), 2008 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (unaudited) and 2007 Audited Statemen for the year ended 09/30/2010 Document2 posted 01/18/2011 (90 KB) details

    2010 Unaudited, 2009 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (Unauidted), 2008 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (unaudited) and 2007 Audited Statemen for the year ended 09/30/2010 Document1 posted 01/18/2011 (92 KB) details

    2010 Unaudited, 2009 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (Unauidted), 2008 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (unaudited) and 2007 Audited Statemen for the year ended 09/30/2010 Document3 posted 01/18/2011 (206 KB) details

    2010 Unaudited, 2009 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (Unauidted), 2008 Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (unaudited) and 2007 Audited Statemen for the year ended 09/30/2010 posted 01/18/2011 (3 MB) details

    After selecting “Continuing Disclosure the the bottom of the above list is a green arrow “View Document Archive.” Selecting that gets the following list, all hotlinked at the original site.

    This archive contains all official statements, advance refunding documents, amendments and duplicate filings received by the MSRB from underwriters for this issue. An advance refunding document that does not appear in the Advance Refunding Documents tab may be listed in this archive if this issue advance refunded a prior issue of bonds.

    Document Posting Date
    Financial Operating Filing (2.2 MB) 04/11/2012
    Financial Operating Filing (2.5 MB) 03/30/2012
    Financial Operating Filing (277 KB) 05/20/2011
    Financial Operating Filing (1 MB) 01/18/2011
    Financial Operating Filing (103 KB) 01/18/2011
    Financial Operating Filing (206 KB) 01/18/2011
    Financial Operating Filing (90 KB) 01/18/2011
    Financial Operating Filing (206 KB) 01/18/2011
    Financial Operating Filing (92 KB) 01/18/2011
    Financial Operating Filing (3 MB) 01/18/2011
    Official Statement (5.7 MB) 07/29/2003

    1. The original loan docs can be accessed via that link. The restrictive covenants involving Debt Service are very clear cut.

  15. Is government unrest contagious? At a public social gathering in Diamondhead yesterday afternoon, the Diamondhead Mayor was openly berating and bad mouthing the Diamondhead Water and Sewer District, and boldly stating that the city is going to take them over. That’s just what we need in Hancock County, another Mayor and City Council with access to public utility funds.
    I would say that at this point, I am about to throw in the towel, but that is not my nature.
    What I have concluded is this: Hancock County is suffering from TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT:
    3 Muncicipalities
    3Mayors
    4 aldermen
    12 councilmen
    3 city clerks
    8 attorneys ( this includes the 2 school districts and may be even more with all the other little agencies)
    2 school districts
    5 supervisors
    3 city halls, I government complex & the County Court House staff ( all with staffs of untold numbers)
    at least 2 fire departments
    2 Fire Chiefs
    2 police departments
    2 Police Chiefs
    1 sheriff’s department (necessary)
    Tax collector ( necessary)
    Chancery Clerk (necessary)
    Circuit Clerk (necessary)
    2 school districts
    2 superintendents of education ( numerous staffs)
    2 assistant superintendents of education (numerous staffs)
    2 school district offices (2 central offices” expenses last year exceeded $11 million)
    All of this( and I am sure I missed some) for a county of only 45,000 residents.
    This was pointed out to me several years ago when I received a phone call from a gentleman at Stennis Space Center who held a Master’s Degree in City Planning. He said that this little county is suffering from TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT, and these numbers are convincing.
    We only need one central governing body for this county, with 5 representatives (max).
    And it is not just us, it is all over this state and nation–we are choking on government, and a very small
    percentage of them actually know what they are doing, and the effects on the taxpayers is becoming unbearable!
    To put it mildly, all of this duplication is making the taxpayers see DOUBLE!!

  16. Having been at the mercy of utility districts for many years I am of the opinion that having a city in control of the utilities is better than a district. The districts seem to be able to so as they please without any oversight by anyone. Diamondhead’s district has been notorious for extremely high tap fees for businesses. I would think this wold have a chilling effect on new businesses locating there. I also am of the understanding that water usage is connected to their sewer costs. If you water your lawn, wash your car of pressure wash the house etc that water usage can cause an increase in your sewer bill. Some residents tell me they have separate “irrigation” meters. I have no idea of this cost but seems odd since neither of the other two cities have this type of billing. As a city now the city government has no say in these practices. I believe that the city government, the people’s representatives, should have control of all city services. The fire district should be dissolved as well and absorbed by the city.

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