There is a lot of background chatter on this topic folks but I will not report the rumor because, if true, will be bad enough for certain parties without advance speculation on my part. I’ll do my best to attend this evening and broadcast the meeting on Periscope. Stay tuned.
Falgout moved to have City Attorney Donald Rafferty file a writ of mandamus to force the administration to comply with the council’s invoice ordinance. A writ of mandamus is an order from a court that a government official fulfill his or her duties.
Rafferty responded the city attorney may not take the side of the mayor or the council.
Laughter erupted among those in attendance.
And I uploaded a 2 hour clip of the meeting from Slabbed’s Periscope coverage of the meeting. (The sound is uneven but that is the nature of the beast)
Slabbed New Media has confirmed that Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame has vetoed two recent City Council Actions including a Council resolution seeking a Department of Justice Investigation into the mishandling of several hundreds thousand dollars in Drug Forfeiture funds by the Fillingame Administration. This City Council resolution was passed 7-0 at the August 18, 2015 City Council meeting. Mayor Fillingame also vetoed giving the Clerk of the City Council online viewing access to the City’s main bank account, which passed at a recess meeting of the City Council on September 25, 2015. That City Council action resulted from the culmination of months of wrangling between Mayor Fillingame and the City Council over the Council’s inability to access basic financial records including cash balance information before being asked to vote on matters involving City finances.
The veto represents the latest sparring between the Mayor and City Council that most recently flared up when the City’s audit firm presented the Council with a draft of the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year audit report in August, which by law was due to the Single Audit Clearinghouse on June 30, 2015 and the Office of the Mississippi State Auditor by September 30, 2015. According to sources familiar with the operations of the City, Mayor Fillingame has thus far failed to deliver the City’s Corrective Action plan to the numerous significant deficiencies identified by the audit firm for inclusion in the report. One of the significant deficiencies noted by the audit firm included the City running naked for Workers Comp insurance for 60 days just months after Mayor Fillingame was re-elected in 2013 due to nonpayment of the policy premium. Fillingame had previously steadfastly denied the City was experiencing any financial problems during the campaign.
This continues a pattern of Mayor Fillingame attempting to stonewall bad audit reports as the Municipal FY 2012-2013 audit opinion was disclaimed by the City’s audit firm after Mayor Fillingame failed to deliver a plan to deal with the City’s financial crisis, which has been an ongoing topic for discussion in the City since 2011 despite Fillingame’s repeated denials of same. In June 2014 Mayor Fillingame finally admitted to the City Council that the City was on the verge of defaulting on an existing water and sewer bond issue due to a lack of funds. This bond issue was then refinanced at a cost to the taxpayers of over $150,000, which averted the default and resulted in a $13/month surcharge being applied across the board to every municipal water customer.
More recently Mayor Fillingame has diverted the $13/month surcharge that was added to utility bills to the City’s operating bank account, despite being dedicated by both loan agreement and council resolution to the payment of the refinanced Water and Sewer bonds. City financial records show only infrequent transfers from the operating bank account to the dedicated debt service fund despite a covenant in the bond debenture requiring the monthly deposit of these funds to the debt service bank account. This debt service funding is currently comingled with Utility, General and Harbor fund cash. Rumors have repeatedly surfaced that accuse Mayor Fillingame of mishandling these dedicated funding sources in an attempt to cover-up the accumulated deficit in the General Fund caused by repeated spending of tax money on non-budgeted items like free Trolley bus service for Ward 2 at a cost of over $70,000 for 6 months of service. Earlier in 2015 it was revealed Mayor Fillingame was providing City a owned dumpster for use by two restaurants in Old Town Bay St Louis. Continue reading “Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame vetoes City Council 7-0 vote calling for Department of Justice Investigation”
So here I find myself this Saturday working on the day jobs including trying to arrange the massive amount of information I still have to present on the new Jackson County Adult Warehouse Detention Center when off in the distance I heard a sound (ooops wrong sound this one), which is the sound of the local spin cycle starting.
Rest assured I am paying very close attention to this matter. Even better coming soon Slabbed will do something we’ve never done and that is present an actual audit workpaper because the proof lies in the contemporary documentary evidence, not after the fact spin or self-serving backfill.
The Fillingame Administration has made a major mess. The exercise of finding out who is taking ownership of it is quite enlightening.
The City of Bay St Louis has been out of the news cycle here at Slabbed for a few months now but here in the dog days of August last night’s meet produced big news on a couple of fronts the main one being this morning’s City Council meeting headline. There has been chatter about the Drug Asset Forfeiture Funds since the last meeting and it was clear from Chief Denardo’s remarks last night regarding the Bay Police Department’s inability to access the funding source to make undercover drug buys there was a problem in finance. The council request asks for a review of the forfeiture accounts from 2008 forward.
Additionally Councilman Lonnie Falgout questioned the amount of cash currently shown on the City’s financial statements for the 2014 Refunding Bond Debt Service Fund indicating his calculations show a shortage of close to $100,000 in the fund. Mayor Fillingame promised to present a reconciliation of the cash in that fund at the next scheduled council meeting.
Slabbed New Media has learned that by call of the City Council, a special meeting will be held in the Council Chambers at approximately 6:30pm Tuesday April 28, 2015, following the Bay Planning and Zoning Board meeting.
The Council has requested the City Clerk be in attendance as the meeting will focus on City finances and the upcoming bonded debt payment.
But I could not find a video of a dog with firecrackers going off behind it. With that set up, despite prior assurances the City would be able to pay off the loan the City took last November to pay past due bills, the Administration informed the Council last night the City would need additional time to pay off the remaining balance, pegged by City Clerk Kolf at approximately $200,000.
In other news, proposals to conduct the 2013-2014 fiscal year audit were opened and tabled. Two of the three firms on the State Auditor’s list of approved firms here on the coast submitted proposals. The lack of more proposals means Winner’s curse is not a factor thus the effective hourly rates implied in the pricing are very good (from a CPAs point of view).
Finally if you got an agenda from Miss Jane and did not see advertising for bids for a major construction project or declaring as surplus several pieces of City property it because those items were not on it. Those official actions did make most of the assembled crowd happy though and that gets back to the dog and firecracker thing. The bottom line is do not count on the agendas you get from the Council Clerk in advance of the meeting because they are not worth the paper they are printed upon when it comes to the business the council actually considers.