Special Meeting of the Bay City Council set for Thursday

In order to succeed in reducing or eliminating such audit findings and improve the financial position of the City, over the
next year, the Council, the Mayor, and the administration will need to make some very hard decisions that may not always
be popular. In addition, the City will need to find ways to sustain the changes and cuts that it makes in order for these
solutions to be long-term. ~ Bay St Louis Performance Audit Report issued by the Office of the State Auditor

Those of you following Slabbed’s Twitter timeline got a taste of last night’s City Council meeting. Stacey Cato at the Seacoast Echo filled in many of the later gaps.

As the City winds down the 3rd Quarter of its fiscal year the above verbiage I quoted from the Performance Review of the City came to mind. OSA used a very specific term, “Deficit” to describe the City’s financial situation and in Mississippi there is no statutory authority to park accumulated deficits into bank debt. The only options are to raise more revenue or cut spending. There is not much that can be done from a revenue raising standpoint at the end of a municipality’s third quarter leaving one other option to get a budget into balance.

As for the MIA City Attorney, we found him: Continue reading “Special Meeting of the Bay City Council set for Thursday”

Bay City Attorney claims Vig on proposed bond issue. What do the taxpayers get?

Nothing as far as I can tell but a $40,000 bill for no work. Lets’ start with Geoff Belcher over at Fillingame PR:

….the governing authorities shall have the power to pay reasonable compensation … but in no instance shall such compensation so paid exceed one percent of the bonds issued or refunded.”

The statute “says we can pay him up to one percent,” Councilman-at-Large Mike Favre said, “but I don’t think we have to. .. I still don’t understand why we need a third party. He doesn’t even sign anything, I don’t think. He’s just looking at it.”

“I know he’s entitled to it,” Ward 3 Councilman Jeff Reed said, “but I think we talked about negotiating with him on that. Let’s wait until (Tuesday’s) meeting and see if we can negotiate with him and see if he’ll take something less.”

“We’ve always paid attorneys’ fees,” Ward 2 Councilwoman Wendy McDonald said Friday. “We’ve always paid the city attorney to look over our documents. We have a city attorney to look out for the interests of the city and the council and make sure we don’t make mistakes. We try very hard not to make mistakes.

I guess its the past mistakes that give me the heartburn I have in this matter. Over the last several years Municipal audit after Municipal audit has been riddled with state legal compliance violation after violation, most repeated from year to year. The 2014 audit is now very late but that is nothing new because the 2013 audit was very late and none of this counts that 2013 loan at The First the City made when it was on the edge of insolvency without any apparent statutory authority.

With due respect to Councilwoman McDonald the people in Bay St Louis are not the fools she thinks they are. The City Attorney should not get a nickle by virtue of the fact that he takes up a space in the Council’s Board room breathing air and with due respect to Councilman Reed, according to the statute the attorney is due exactly what the City Council authorizes not exceed 1% of the total. It’d be nice if the gang on the City Council treated the City’s money with a bit more respect and stopped acting like Mr. Rafferty was their boss. Tuesday’s meeting should be worth attending.

Deprivation of Civil Rights under the Color of Law: A Primer for Bay St Louis City Officials Part 1 (Updated)

Word got out fast about yesterday’s Municipal Court proceedings, in particular the case of local businessman Jeff Harding, who was recently expelled from a City Council meeting for alleged shooting the bird at Council President Bobby Compretta and ticketed for disturbing the peace. Yesterday, municipal court Judge Steve Maggio sentenced Harding to 180 days jail with 150 days suspended, 24 months supervised probation, plus a prohibition against entering any establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, abstention from the use of alcoholic beverages, a $500 fine and $200 per month to ASAP.

There is only one problem with this prosecution and one that could create a bill that the taxpayers of Bay St Louis could well end up footing in the denial of Mr. Harding’s right to political expression. I know a few things about this topic and I did not have to look hard to find some links:

Is It Legal to Flip Off a Cop? ~ Avvo Naked Law

Court: Flipping the bird at a cop doesn’t warrant arrest ~ NBC News

A New York man arrested after he gave the finger to a police officer can sue police for malicious prosecution, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, overturning a lower-court decision that deemed the officer’s response reasonable.

In its decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that giving someone the finger is an “ancient gesture of insult” and “is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”

This latest bit of jackassery from our local elected officials is certain to dominate the news. These fails would not sting quite so badly if they weren’t all self-inflicted. Stay tuned.

Update: Continue reading “Deprivation of Civil Rights under the Color of Law: A Primer for Bay St Louis City Officials Part 1 (Updated)”

Harborgate: Still never a dull moment here in the Bay (Updated)

Welp folks, as suspected the City of Bay St Louis is back to robbing Peter to pay Paul:

According to Mayor Fillingame, long time City Clerk Kolf does not know how to properly code the monthly installment of the City’s insurance policy, but nobody believes that as there has been no general fund docket to speak of for months.

Ward resigned from the seven-member Harbor Commission two weeks ago, firing off an email, obtained by the Sun Herald, to the council.

“I feel that eventually we will all be embarrassed in a public financial disaster that is not in our control,” the email said. “The administration has not and will not provide us with accurate and up to date information to make any type (of) decision or planning. (Mayor Les Fillingame) doesn’t provide it to the council and (the) council accepts it that way.”

On Monday, Ward told the Sun Herald he believes the city intentionally took the money out of the harbor fund to cover its own approaching insurance payment.

And this is why I think Mayor Fillingame and Councilperson McDonald’s attempts to plunge the City into the private trash business for the benefit of a few old town merchants is so fundamentally misguided because it is pretty clear a City that can’t get the basics of municipal bookkeeping right that can’t provide basic services to its citizens on a consistent basis has no business expanding into new areas.

Next up the Bay St Louis City Attorney evidently does not know how to contact an insurance agent: Continue reading “Harborgate: Still never a dull moment here in the Bay (Updated)”

Mayberry by the Sea Part 2: Taxpaying citizens cheated of their right to petition and vote

Making stuff up as you go along can carry severe consequences. Here is the salient verbiage:

§31-8-11. Notice of intent to lease; protest; election; advertisement of lease agreement; award of lease

Before entering into any lease agreement pursuant to this chapter secured by a pledge of its full faith and credit, the governing authorities of any county or municipality shall publish notice of their intention to receive suitable proposals for the leasing of such buildings, facilities or equipment. Such notice shall specify the nature of the proposed building, facility or equipment, the general geographic area in which the same is to be located, the term of the proposed lease agreement, that the obligation to pay rentals during the primary term is to be a continuing obligation of and a charge against the general credit and leasing power of the county or municipality, and the date and hour on or before which such proposals may be received. Such notice shall be published by municipalities and counties in the same manner as required for publishing notice of intention to issue general obligation bonds of the county or municipality, as appropriate. If at least twenty percent (20%), or fifteen hundred (1500), of the qualified electors of a county, whichever is less, or at least ten percent (10%), or fifteen hundred (1500), of the qualified electors of a municipality, whichever is less, file a written protest with the appropriate governing authorities, then an election shall be called by the county in the same manner as provided for the issuance of county general obligation bonds in Sections 19-9-11 through 19-9-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, or by a municipality in the same manner as provided for the issuance of municipal general obligation bonds in Sections 21-33-307 through 21-33-311, Mississippi Code of 1972, to determine whether or not the proposed lease agreement may be executed by the county or municipality. The lease agreement shall be advertised for competitive sealed proposals once each week for two (2) consecutive weeks in a regular newspaper published or having a general circulation in the county or municipality of the governing authority. The date as published for the proposal opening shall be not less than five (5) working days after the last published notice. The lease shall be awarded to the person submitting the lowest and best proposal; however, all proposals may be rejected.

According to a Public Records Request Return to the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government from Bay St Louis City Hall, none of the three full faith and credit capital leases entered into by the City over the past three years, including the fire trucks which caused such a ruckus in the social media early this year, were advertised pursuant to the law, yet now the citizenry is getting stuck with an Ad Valorem Tax Levy to pay them off. Stay tuned.

From the mean streets of Bay St. Louis: Poolman gets his letter

I reckon it is one big coincidence that this issue came up at City Hall a few days after local businessman Jeff Harding spoke out at the City Council meeting about the City’s financial crisis:

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Obtained from local businessman Jeff Harding

Mr. Harding indicated to Slabbed his intent was to demolish and build a new structure and this was not a secret inside City Hall, where Mr. Harding obtained a building permit to demolish the existing structure on the property.

If you are in the business community and are planning to invest in Hancock County I think the lesson here is to locate in Waveland. Here are some of the local taxes a contractor like Poolman would pay: Continue reading “From the mean streets of Bay St. Louis: Poolman gets his letter”

UPDATED: Bay businessman claims Mayor Fillingame retaliated against his business for speaking out on financial crisis.

Although he goes by the handle Poolman here on Slabbed everyone here in the Bay knows Poolman is Jeff Harding. His comment to Knee jerk calls for Bay tax increases making a bad situation worse speaks for itself:

Breaking News. I just played a voice mail from Tommy whom works for the City of Bay St. Louis building department. The time stamp in 3:34 pm friday. Mr Tommy just doing his job said that the City of Bay St Louis revoked the business privilege license for Gulf Coast Pools llc to do business in the city. I am going to go in on monday morning and ask the non- certified building official to READ me the violations. Isn’t a great country when the mayor can pass down the chain of his command orders to shut down a company without first a written notice!

I fear Hizzoner is writing City checks his ego can’t cash. This is the man Randy Ponder of the Seacoast Echo said we needed to give a pass on the financial crisis and just let him raise our taxes. Meantime it appears the mean streets of Bay St Louis just got meaner.

These City actions are ill advised on about 100 different levels.

UPDATE:
I have obtained the voice mail left on Mr. Harding’s phone and have uploaded it to youtube. It is embedded below the jump. Continue reading “UPDATED: Bay businessman claims Mayor Fillingame retaliated against his business for speaking out on financial crisis.”