Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was a doozie and that does not count this:
Lawyer’s discovery stuns Bay St. Louis officials ~ Wes Muller
Bay St. Louis attorney Stephen Benvenutti told the council the city’s comprehensive zoning ordinance was never published, as required by law, when it was adopted by the previous City Council in 2010.
Municipalities are legally required to publish zoning change proposals and other significant measures in the municipality’s local newspaper within 30 days of a council’s vote. The newspaper of record for municipalities in Hancock County is the Sea Coast Echo.
The display of ineptitude inherent to not following simple, statutorily mandated tasks such as keeping a codified book of municipal ordinances and publishing them after Council adoption by Mayor Fillingame and his appointees is stunning, though not surprising. The fact is this problem was identified in 2015 by the FY 2014 auditors at Wright Ward Hatten and Guel. Here is what the state auditor wrote in their Performance Review of that audit:
“You’re – in essence – healthy,” Bobby Culumber, of Gulfport-based CPA firm Culumber, Harvey & Associates, told council members at a workshop meeting on Thursday.
Ooops sorry folks wrong auditor. Here is what the State Auditor Performance Review said about Fillingame Administration problems handling ordinances:
It’s clear from the State Auditor’s language Mayor Fillingame was confused as to his job responsibilities in 2014, despite being well into his second term as the “Strong Mayor”. A plain read of the Performance Review shows he pointed the finger at the Council and Council Clerk as the reason for his incompetence but as OSA makes clear that dog don’t hunt. Along those lines it should surprise no one I am hearing Fillingame and his political supporters are again pointing the finger at Former Council Clerk Jane Carrow in an effort to scapegoat her for the Mayor’s ineptitude. But it is worse than that because there are other official actions that must be advertised in the local paper such as Debt issued that is backed by the full faith and credit of the municipality. There are currently “dedicated”* tax levies to pay these debts which were never advertised. The liability exposure to the City could run into the millions folks, such liability pointed out by the State Auditor in the Performance Review.
These problems, all identified long ago, continue to keep coming up. Luckily for weary taxpayers in the Bay an opportunity is coming in early June for the Citizenry to take out the trash at City Hall. Unfortunately for the taxpayers, making good with citizens like Mr. Adams is likely to cost scarce tax money well into the future.
* Term used with caution in Bay St Louis as the Mayor has no problem expending dedicated funds for prohibited purposes.