And now its time for a Pascagoula Financial Disaster Update……

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:

Budget numbers show overspending may be to blame for Pascagoula deficit

Reports show current Pascagoula city leaders have overspent by $9 million

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:

Pascagoula was nearly broke in 2015, according to forensic audit

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: Continue reading “And now its time for a Pascagoula Financial Disaster Update……”

Why Hancock County Can’t Afford Nice Things Part 2: Back Room Deals, Lack of Sunshine

Reader Submitted Photo of Front Gate of the Bay Waveland Yacht Club
Reader Submitted Photo of Front Gate of the Bay Waveland Yacht Club

It is safe to say the Yacht Club’s tax exemption has reverberated around the county a time or two so now it’s time we put everything together and illustrate both how the process under which tax exemption was given is fatally flawed, lacking any semblance of transparency and what the elected officials can do to fix it.

There has been lots of information posted already and then Geoff Belcher’s article for the Sea Coast Echo proved as an invaluable resource because the players behind the events made on the record comments. First things is to emphasize the update to the first post because we did get a fact wrong and the correct facts need to be emphasized:

Slabbed has been contacted by the Department of Revenue in response to communications from Jimmie Ladner’s office. Jeff Foreman of MDOR indicated this this type of tax exemption does not require MDOR approval:

As I understand from ……. below, the Bay Waveland Yacht Club is claiming exemption as a “perpetual or fraternal and benevolent organization”. As you have already established in this thread, such an exemption is clearly authorized under Miss. Code Ann. Section 27-31-1(d). Under current Mississippi law, case law and guidance from the Mississippi Attorney General, the duty to determine eligibility for such an exemption lies solely with the county. The Department of Revenue plays no role in the approval of such exemptions and, as such, there is no requirement for any information regarding such exemptions to be filed with the Department.

The takeaway from Mr. Foreman’s very important clarification needs highlighting because it drives the inescapable logic that follows:

Under current Mississippi law, case law and guidance from the Mississippi Attorney General, the duty to determine eligibility for such an exemption lies solely with the county.

Mr. Foreman’s word are precise and he didn’t say the duty to determine eligibility for such an exemption lies solely with the tax assessor/collector, rather he was referencing the County Board of Supervisors and the Tax Collector. Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government asked the follow-up question to confirm with Mr. Foreman his very precise remarks. This is what he said: Continue reading “Why Hancock County Can’t Afford Nice Things Part 2: Back Room Deals, Lack of Sunshine”