Saturday Special: It’s Still Screwy in Bay St Louie….

As a young auditor I learned very quickly that one thing governing boards dislike more than anything else is “Emergency” special called meetings. Along those lines we get a flavor from Cassandra Favre’s article on yesterday’s Bay Council emergency meeting that the Council was not very happy and for good reason. To set things up Cruising the Coast is in full swing with the Old Town section of the City jam packed with classic cars and people. If there is such a thing as a good time to call a City Council meeting, the Thursday – Saturday stretch of Cruising the Coast would be off limits yet that is exactly what the Mayor asked the Council to do, three days after a regular meeting, so the City could make its next payroll. The meeting was not streamed by Jerry Beaugez of Mayor Fillingame’s Administration as neither attended the meeting which the Mayor asked to be called. The lack of a live stream and the conspicuous absences appears to be an exercise in trying to hide the fact the City does not have enough of a general fund balance to make its first payroll of the fiscal year. Here is a snippet:

“You’re – in essence – healthy,” Bobby Culumber, of Gulfport-based CPA firm Culumber, Harvey & Associates, told council members at a workshop meeting on Thursday.

Oops, sorry folks, wrong meeting workshop. Here is a snippet from Cassandra’s story:

Falgout asked Gonzales to explain the need for this loan.

During budget workshops, Gonzales said she and the council had discussions about the estimated ending cash balance for the general fund, which she had planned as zero, because the budget was very close, she said.

“We ended up with about $34,000 in the bank account at the end of September going into our Oct. 1 date,” Gonzales said. “On the Sept. 29 meeting when we adopted the budget, I informed you that I felt it would be necessary to have a cash-flow loan between October through January until we started getting those tax revenues coming in. We virtually get hardly any from October through December.”

Gonzales said she intended to bring the matter up at the Oct. 4 meeting, but she was unable to attend.

Gonzales said the city is going to immediately need $84,000 to meet next week’s payroll, which will be disbursed on Oct. 14.

Not counted in these numbers is the fact the City’s General Fund still owes the Utility fund over $80,000 and was unable to clear it at fiscal year end due to a lack of cash (and fund balance) in the General Fund.

Speaking of money, the fee for the new City Attorney was a much discussed topic at the Tuesday regular meeting. New City Attorney Trent Favre sounded almost apologetic for his bill but the fact of the matter is the guy busted his ass with the added bonus of hiring on right when all hell was beginning to break loose in the Police Department and Chief Denardo’s suicide. My own attitude is make hay while the sun shines. Meantime Councilman Doug Seal hints at the price of having a unqualified Mayoral crony as the perpetually interim head of the Building Department:

Councilman Doug Seal said he thinks the council relies too heavily on its professional service providers.

“That’s not what they’re for,” Seal said. “They should not be in the day-to-day operations of the city of Bay St. Louis. Our engineer should not be in the day-to-day operations of Bay St. Louis. That’s where we’re spending crazy money. We have people within the administration to do these small and mundane things. You should not have to be in a building department meeting. Once we get sued, then you can be in a building department meeting.”
Favre said the council’s biggest “hemorrhage” is the building department because he is receiving numerous calls.

Seal is dreaming if he thinks the Council relies too much on its professionals as quoted above because the Council should have nothing to do with the day to day operations of the City. Maybe the Mayor uses too much in the way of professional services but I do not see how the Council relies too heavily on its City Attorney. After all it’s only been two months since they began to get consistent legal advice.

Meantime the City still has several investigative agencies pouring over several aspects of Municipal operations and tomorrow we’ll examine a couple of areas with columns of proverbial billowing smoke pouring out. Stay tuned.

19 thoughts on “Saturday Special: It’s Still Screwy in Bay St Louie….”

  1. Why haven’t we called the mayor’s bond? Not called the bonding company : get the money.
    I’ve been paying a $13 a month tax, with no end in sight. Enough is enough. Resign or the council ask for his resignation. Absent both, we the people…. this is ridiculous.

  2. I agree with Rachel. How loooooooong does this have to go on before someone does something.
    In Waveland, Tate Reeves had a Highway Patrolman drive him down to get in our newly elected Mayor’s face, and threaten to take the city over if he didn’t come up with a “plan” by day’s end. Hell, the man just took the oath, his punch still had ice cubes in it!!
    In 2011, on the last day of the fiscal year, the $300,000 in DOJ money was “unrestricted, and co-mingled into other city accounts.” Before anyone goes off on me, those are not my words. That is the DOJ and State Auditor. The BSL Police Dept. has been kicked out of the Equitable Sharing Program, and the DOJ nor anyone else has done anything for them. Let’s get this resolved people, and get our guys and gals who are on the line everyday back in the program.
    In October of 2013, both Solid Waste and Hancock County Utility Authority representatives were in the Sea Coast Echo screaming for their 3 months in arears payments from BSL amounting to $368,000. The utility users in the Bay sent their payments to city hall, but they didn’t make it to the authorities who provided the services???!!!
    In May of 2014, Council discovered they could not make the over $400,000 bond payment to the Hancock Bank and had to ask for a year off, and the bond restructured. We won’t even discuss the attorney fees for that. Yall may be reading this right after a meal.
    Last September 30, the Mayor had to ask Council for $300,000 to get through the rest of the calendar year until ad valorem started coming in Jan.
    I am not trying to bore you, but do you see a pattern here?!
    $1.568 million. But the worst part of all of this is there is no accounting for where all of this dedicated money has gone!!
    The good folks in the Bay have had millage increases, surcharges that Rachael mentioned, loans to pay back, one of which was illegal as cited in their 2014 Audit, sold city assets, etc.
    And they HAVE NO MONEY!!
    What is it going to take??!!
    One of you financial experts that posts here, please tell us.

    1. An accountant. Not a comptroller, bookkeeper, accounting clerk.
      A Certified Public Accountant or Certified Governmental Accountant, who will work with our new Ciry Attorney to get our house in order. It’s going to cost, but we’re broke. We have nowhere to go but up.

  3. There was an earlier question as to whether the new City Attorney changed law firms. At last Tuesday’s meeting, he was handwriting business cards, so I would say that would be a good guess. I also was looking over notes from earlier meetings & noticed that I wrote a note that accountant Trent Favre would assist in finding a new City Attorney. Hhhmmmm

    1. Puleese….

      Trent did move law firms. So what? He isn’t an accountant. Your notes are incorrect.

      The city is lucky to have a man with such integrity willing to take on the mess he’s inherited. He did not take on the city as a “customer” because he needed the account. He did took the job because it was the right thing to do. Hiring him has been one of the best decisions the council has made in a decade.

      Let’s hope the council or mayor don’t screw this one diamond in the rough up! Keep up the good work, Trent!

  4. I was told by the spouse of a Jones Walker employee that they are pulling their firm off the coast. They left.
    Trent very professionally told Council they were in no way obligated to keep him. They could request another attorney with Jones, but they wanted him, so they signed on with his new firm.
    He wants to do right by his hometown. Let’s give him a chance.

    1. Everything I see him doing has been top notch, above and beyond anything we had before. He represents the city, not just the mayor.
      I agree with Lana. Give him a fair chance to prove himself.

  5. Anyone here about the wreck yesterday? Les hit an old car, left the scene of the accident then came back to smooth things out. Special treatment???

  6. He was reportedly angry and left the scene saying he would shut the whole cruising down if the cruisers couldn’t drive better this is his town, and he returned a short time later argumentively and was trying to stop the police report. I wonder if he was breathalyzed? More favors? All this is secondhand but a police report ought to be easy to get for verification!

  7. I would say at this point it is very safe to say there was an accident involving the Mayor. Now, whether or not there is ever an official record of it remains to be seen. But roughly 20 witnessed it from what I have heard.
    You know, things happen sometimes. Not the end of the world.🚗🚓😎

    1. Do you think the city owned vehicle is parked in the woods to hide front end damage done in the accident Friday?

  8. He will jeopardize another officer for his own benefit. His Mantra is “Me First”. Another minor oversight.

  9. Why wasn’t Jerry Beaujangles live streaming the meeting while Les had his comptroller/Clerk pandering for cash. Is this Les’s live reality show where his assholiness edits and selects his best moments?

    He won’t be able to edit the videos of Lil Les Daddy Said on Hwy 90!

  10. I was in no way demeaning Trent. I think he’s the best thing that’s happened to the Bay in years & I also don’t care that he changed firms, I was simply responding to an earlier remark, I also don’t claim to have infallible notes but I believe the other person who was helping the city search was an accountant & since I didn’t know Trent, I thought they worked together, Lord Clifford. I’m not royalty & I do make mistakes. Sorry sir.

  11. The train is on the tracks. Les n the pulled pig pork barrel sandwich need to put their ear to the ground! I think they may be flight risks!

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