Bay St Louis City Council meeting recap: City Clerk Gonzales tries her hand at hoodwinking the City Council

Of the last four City Clerks only one had the kind of professionalism and personal integrity to follow financial portions of the Mississippi Code while the other three sold their professional reputations for a paycheck. Unfortunately Clerk Gonzales falls in with the majority in my opinion and it was a rather simple, somewhat innocuous looking agenda item in 3(g) that attracted my attention before last Tuesday’s meeting:

Source: Bay St Louis City Council
Source: Bay St Louis City Council

The reason the proposal to set up an Unemployment Compensation Revolving Fund within the Municipal Reserve Bank Account attracted my attention is the obvious co-mingling of dedicated funds, a major no no the council should have learned by now.

That said there were at least three City Councilmen, lead by Councilman Doug Seal, that evidently retained none of the training given them by the Office of the State Auditor’s Performance Audit division in favor of railing about there being too many bank accounts (itself a confusion between the terms “fund” and “bank account”). That said, after a member of the audience repeatedly mentioned to City Attorney Trent Favre the money needed to be separated into its own fund, were questions asked by Councilman Boudin. The council ended up telling Gonzales keep the funds separate.

Surely Ms. Gonzales was aware that Unemployment Compensation for local governments was covered by the Mississippi Code, which spells out the requirement in great specificity at authority section 71-5-359:

(4) Any political subdivision of this state shall pay to the department for the unemployment compensation fund an amount equal to the regular benefits and the extended benefits paid that are attributable to service in the employ of such political subdivision unless it elects to make contributions to the unemployment fund as provided in subsection (9) of this section. The amount required to be reimbursed shall be billed and shall be paid as provided in Section 71-5-357, with respect to similar payments for nonprofit organizations.

(5) Each political subdivision, unless it elects to make contributions to the unemployment compensation fund as provided in subsection (9) of this section, shall establish a revolving fund and deposit an amount equal to two percent (2%) of the first Six Thousand Dollars ($ 6,000.00) paid to each employee thereof during the next preceding year. However, the department shall by regulation establish a procedure to allow reimbursing political subdivisions to elect to maintain the balance in the revolving fund as required under this paragraph or to annually execute a surety bond to be approved by the department in an amount not less than two percent (2%) of the covered wages paid during the next preceding year.

In her presentation Gonzales got every part right except for the establishment of the Unemployment Compensation Revolving Fund. Can you imagine, given the missing DOJ money (comingled and misspent) and other massive problems that have surfaced through time associated with co mingling dedicated funds what Mayor Fillingame would have done once the Unemployment Comp Fund was comingled with the Municipal Reserve Fund?

File this one under the Council got it right, with some help from the audience that seemingly knew more about this topic than they and the Administration.

11 thoughts on “Bay St Louis City Council meeting recap: City Clerk Gonzales tries her hand at hoodwinking the City Council”

  1. I sure hope Trent can guide the council in the right direction. It seems the new clerk has joined forces with her predecessors and drank the Kool Aid. Maybe BSL need to “Drain the Swamp” also.
    Wake up Doug, and 2 of your board members have been there long enough to know better. You are obviously part of the Swamp. You need to go…..

  2. The swamp is big and has vile slimey creatures wallowing in it. I know of a big wart hog called Wendy? You can put lip stick on it but it is still a hog at the trough! She has not been to a meeting in 7 months nor participated in city business for the same period. One would think that the façade of loving BSL she would step down and quit receiving her salary and benefits because she cannot or will not serve! $17,600 per year plus benefits and gratuities that politicians receive.

    She has been seen at events during extreme weather as well as enjoying other BSL venues while out.

    She has the same gig as the councilman Lonny replaced had.

    The Swamp is Deep, Wide and Stanching with with self serving vermin!

    They are owed a living mentality is killing us!

    1. Councilwoman McDonald was not injured on city property or in her official capacity as a police official. She needs to die the person who injured her and step away from the public trough. She could not help being incapacitated in the middle of the fiscal year, and everyone has waited patiently for her to recover and return. Obviously she is not going to. So why did she deliberately let Council adopt a new budget with her salary and benefits in it knowing she is not coming back. And let’s not forget Ward II residents have no voice at the table either.

      1. She is a Swamp Creature and feels she is entitled to take what she wants and give the rest away.
        She needs to be flushed away with the other vile creatures.

        Drain The Swamp!

  3. Looking at the history of BSL, a curious person might be looking into verifying that all is in order with respect to the required surety bond which was propsed to be replaced by the comingled reserve funds.

    1. Actually, I will be more to the point.

      Given the recent history and ongoing financial history of BSL, all those individuals with fiduciary responsibility for BSL finances (both elected and otherwise) should now be verifying that all is in order with respect to the required surety bond which was proposed to be replaced by a commingled reserve fund.

      Specifically, was the recent “mistake” the non starter proposal (the subject of this post), or was there another related preceding “mistake” which preceded the most recent “mistake”??

      1. Gonzales mentioned the existing surety bond and gave an amount for the premium the City would be saving ($1,600 if memory serves). It is part of the reason that not setting up a proper fund is so inexcusable as she surely knew of the requirements.

        1. Someone on the BSL council ought to be verifying that the premiums have been paid and the bonding is and has been current. Just saying.

            1. Any member of the BSL council ought to have the means and capability to review both the claims docket information provided to the council in the meeting packets as an agenda item over the past year, and the claims dockets as approved or amended in the official minutes by BSL council action.

              There should be enough detail to see whether or not a claim for payment to pay the surety bond was presented and approved by the BSL council. There is indeed nothing conclusive that they could or should determine as a council member on their own, but seeing if such a claim might have been presented for payment is not out of their bounds either imo.

              At the same time I would suggest the council member(s) make a written request to the BSL city attorney to verify all the details of the unemployment coverage over the past few years. I hear that going naked may have been a thing in BSL .

              As I mentioned more than two years ago here at Slabbed, BSL apparently still needs the help of the SPCRI*. As the SPCRI literature says, the first step to getting help is recognizing that you or others near you have RCI.

              *Society for Prevention and Cure of Rectal-Cranial Inversion

  4. I see Wendy out all of the time enjoying the Social Life. If she can sit at a Table in Public eating Dinner with friends, then there should be no reason for her not to sit at the Council Table and represent her district that she is getting paid to do. There must be some law that addresses a situation where a member does not attend, or if she is disabled as she may claim, then has to resign If she is not physically or mentally able to do her duties. Does she have a doctor’s opinion on this? Or is she waiting to see who may run for her seat.
    Enough is enough feeding off the tax payers getting her salary and health benefits at our expense. Lets have a recall of her seat. City Attorney where are you?????
    Does she go to work everyday for Habitat ? or is she playing the same game with them?
    So let’s look at this picture–DeNardo’s wife, Wendy and Les all on city payroll but absentee, but in the case of Les, he is there but totally useless. Is there a pattern here. Oh I forgot to mention Les daughter, another one leaving early, but still getting paid..
    How many more out there??

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