Slabbed has been keeping one eye peeled on the machinations in Pascagoula, where property taxes are set to increase a whopping 34%, to make up for the financial mismanagement of the current administrations ($9 million of the $14 million dollar total deficit in 1 year) and the prior administration ($6 million of the $14 million dollar deficit over 4 years).
For those catching up, current Mayor Maxwell dropped the budgetary bombshell in late July and blamed a bookkeeper and the former Mayor for the $14 million dollar deficit. Slabbed was the first media outlet to call BS and for good reason as the math didn’t add up the way Mayor Maxwell claimed. Soon the forensic audit report was made public and the more traditional media outlets caught on quickly. Here is the evolution of Tyler Carter’s coverage for the Mississippi Press:
Now for the more recent stories, which are very good, the first containing a nice summary of the events that got the City to a very bad spot:
It was pretty clear to me that the first set of budget cuts Maxwell announced was little more than window dressing on the administration’s part. Buried in the pre-labor day holiday “bad news Friday” news cycle was this informational nugget:
Sources say that 11 city workers have been cut from the city’s beautification department and, around noon Thursday, the Pascagoula Police Department was notified that five vacant patrol positions and one vacant dispatcher position will not be filled and five current department employees are being let go.
When the Mississippi Press inquired about the new layoffs this was the respsonse they received from the very well paid City PIO:
City spokeswoman Lauri-Ellen Smith, however, did respond via a prepared statement:
“Until such time as all activity related to our budgetary process is complete (including realignment of service lines, fees, personnel changes, etc.) and a balanced FY 19 is budget presented to the City Council for their consideration, we can’t comment. It would be improper to discuss active personnel matters, other than to confirm your numbers are inaccurate.”
The reader comments to that particular story tell the tale of public opinion as they wonder when some of Mayor Maxwell’s 6-figure cronies will be let go from their City Hall jobs. If I were them, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Of note is the fact that as of today at 7:45 AM, the City’s FY 2017 Single Audit, which is required by both state and federal law is still not available on the State Auditor’s Office website. Federal law required it be submitted to the clearinghouse no later than June 30, 2018. State law requires it be submitted to OSA no later than September 30, 2018. I figure the report is being stonewalled by the current administration as its content will likely prove embarrassing to Mayor Maxwell.
The bottom line is City has been living off bond proceeds and one time revenues like BP money for the past 5 years or so (massively violating the bond covenants along the way) and the current administration is looking for easy ways out of the financial hole they dug for themselves, so tomorrow there is a public hearing scheduled to discuss the whopping 34% property tax increase Mayor Dane wants to maintain the City Hall bureaucracy in the style to which they are accustomed.
I bet tomorrow’s night’s meeting will be a happening place because I do not think the locals in Pascagoula are sheep. Time will talk. Stay tuned.