We still get the meeting info for the Bay Council and tonight a special meeting is on tap to handle some loose ends for the new fiscal year starting October 1. Tonight’s meeting includes the City Payroll ordinance and workforce salary schedule and under Administration is the line for the City Clerk and it reads as defunded by council. I reckon Sissy Gonzales never got the promotion to the position as she is still listed as City comptroller.
Related and sure to hit the news cycle are some recent Ethics complaints filed against Councilman at large Gary Knoblock. The undercurrents surrounding the complaints are most interesting here. We should have more on that soon.
WLOX has been pumping the upcoming election in the Bay even posting Bill Synder on the beach in Old Town with live reports this morning ahead of the public forum on the topic, which I understand was disrupted by a citizen from Waveland who has no voting rights in the Bay but perceived having a horse in the race nonetheless.
Vote on Bay’s food and beverage tax is next Tuesday ~ Geoff Belcher
Public forum generates debate on Bay St. Louis tax referendum ~ Bill Synder
There is talk that the odd election date is the product of pro-tax proponents scheduling the election at a time when like minded people can pack the polls. That may be true but when it comes to propositions that need a 60% majority my experience is there is no good time for an election. There has to be major community support for such things to get the needed majority and I am not seeing that part on social media. What I am seeing are infrequent social media posters putting things like “Vote No” on their social media timelines.
Rhonda Oliver summed up for WLOX this morning the number one reason I am hearing why people are not supporting the proposed tax increase: Continue reading “Two Percent Hospitality Tax on the Ropes in Bay St Louis”
Word is bubbling up that the Compton Engineering Building purchase is coming to a head there in Bay St Louis. I count 3 votes for housing the Bay police in the floodplain and 3 against with Ward 2 Councilman Hoffman leaning against (based on the last council meeting) but otherwise undeclared. We’ll be keeping an eye out for next Tuesday’s meeting agenda.
The last time we heard of Compton and the City mentioned together it involved Bay Taxpayers, Utility Users Stuck Repaying Excessive Post Katrina Engineering Firm Fees. Then again I would term it highly unusual for a City Councilman to negotiate anything on behalf of a strong Mayor charter City but the tape doesn’t lie.
The question I have is under what metric does it make sense to headquarter a police department in the flood zone in a building that was never intended for that purpose? I imagine the flood premiums on the property would be astronomical not to mention the place would be a tear down after it floods again and yes it is a question of when that happens not if it does. This proposed done deal smells like dead fish to me.
The atmosphere right now in the Bay Council is toxic enough there is no telling what will happen next. It has Slabbed’s full attention in fact.
Not sure when the proposal appears on the ballot but it appears that voters in the Pine Belt are more amenable than those on the coast to levying the tax for recreational purposes with Waynesboro being the latest to put on a levy:
Waynesboro voters pass 1% restaurant, bar and hotel tax ~ Quametra Wilborn
A few weeks back Hattiesburg voters voted to add the 3rd cent to their levy:
Hattiesburg 1% tax referendum passes with 81% of vote ~ WDAM
With the Midtown development coming on line Hattiesburg has become a restaurant and bar “boom town”, which goes with the rest of the booming economy in the Pine Belt. People there don’t mind the extra penny on the dollar because the results are tangible. Most places parks and recreation are like mom and apple pie (most people I spoke with in Hattiesburg especially liked the fact the City was stepping up for its College as Reed-Green desperately needs a major renovation).
That was not true in Gulfport where the measure never made the ballot even though it would have benefited Parks and Recreation.
Here at Slabbed and in social media there are many folks voicing opposition to the new tax in Bay St Louis, which has not yet held its election. One difference is that in the Bay some of the money is slated to fund a new tourism bureaucracy at the local economic development nonprofit despite the fact there is already a local tourism nonprofit. This appears on the surface to be an unnecessary duplication of efforts. Continue reading “Hotel and Restaurant Tax Still Topical in the Bay”
From Lana Noonan, at last night’s Bay Council meeting (slightly edited for clarity):
Minutes ago Bay St. Louis Councilman-at-Large, Gary Knoblock motioned to have a commercial appraisal on the GTEK building at the corner of Sunset and the Highway 90 Service Road in Bay St. Louis, as a potential home for the Bay St. Louis Police Department. The motion was seconded by Ward 5 Councilman Buddy Zimmerman and passed unanimously.
During the discussion, Zimmerman offered that the city needs a plan to utilize public property. The discussion included the possible demolition of the current, unused Police Station at the corner of Highway 90 and Main Street, the subsequent sale of that property along with the sale of the Garden Center. Mayor Favre also stated the possibility of moving some city offices back to the old City Hall on Second St. and using the top floor of the City Hall on Highway 90 for the Police Department.
The demolition of the old Police Station could cost as much as twenty five to thirty thousand dollars due to asbestos remediation involved in the demolition. The commercial appraisals could cost an average of $1,000 to $2,500 each on Garden Center and GTEK.
The good word came down on Tuesday when Judge Ozerden ruled on a Rule 41 voluntary dismissal motion filed by Reed after he settled with the City of Diamondhead’s insurer. I frankly never understood why the private citizens were included by Reed in his Section 1983 lawsuit against the City and once that count was settled it opened the door for the Court to punt the entire case, which it did. Reed could in theory refile the libel action in Circuit Court but he’d be throwing good money after bad based on his federal court complaint. Slabbed’s archival post on this topic can be found here. Judge Ozerden’s order of dismissal is embedded below:
Reed v Diamondhead Doc 47 by Slabbed on Scribd
Moving right along since the archival post also covered the Marquar Section 1983 lawsuit against the City of Bay St Louis, Mike Favre and Lonnie Falgout I took a peek at the docket of that matter while I was on PACER. Motions to Dismiss were filed late last fall and there has not been a docket entry since. I suspect a ruling on those Motions will be forthcoming shortly.
The long and short of this dust up is David Wells asked for a copy of the City’s open litigation list, a document that previous City Attorney Trent Favre kept as a matter of routine. Not only was he stonewalled by City Attorney Heather Ladner Smith, Mr. Wells was then told by Smith the document he asked for didn’t exist, a “fact” the Ethics Commission adopted in its findings. After being stonewalled by Smith, Mr. Wells was able to obtain the document that he requested from Mayor Ice, who evidently understands the value of treating the Citizenry with some respect. Here is the preliminary opinion:
R 18 036 PubRecords by on Scribd
Here is the litigation list as it existed at that time: Continue reading “BREAKING: City of Bay St Louis Cited in Preliminary Opinion for Violating Public Record Law”
On February 1, 2019 the Mississippi Ethics Commission cited the Bay St Louis City Council for violating the Mississippi Open Meeting law in the matter styled Noonan v Mayor and Councilmen of the City of Bay St Louis. In what is a recurring theme with a different cast of characters, the City conducted an improper executive session which resulted in the removal of Ellis Anderson from the Bay St Louis Historical Preservation Commission.
The opinion is not yet on the Ethics Commission website but I have seen portions of it. Essentially the Council and Mayor in the City of Bay St Louis are on the receiving end of an ethics compliant that mostly resulted from not receiving good legal advice from Board attorney Heather Ladner Smith, who failed to caution the Mayor and Council not to act on an item which was not contained on the official meeting agenda. Smith, the politically connected daughter of Hancock County Tax Collector Jimmie Ladner took over as City Attorney when Trent Favre was appointed County Court Judge.
According to Mrs. Noonan, Ms. Smith of the Butler Snow law firm is providing legal services to the City without a formal written contract, a practice the previous administration was advised to discontinue by the Office of the State Auditor.
While Slabbed gathers information to update this post, those so interested should click here for additional background.
Update: Here is the final opinion referenced yesterday. The Council was tagged with not doing their executive session correctly and cites Councilman Smith for trying to conduct deliberations with a majority of the board via email. As Lana Noonan noted in comments today, Councilman Smith was led down the primrose path by City Attorney Heather Ladner Smith. Continue reading “BREAKING: Bay St Louis City Council Cited for Violating Open Meeting Law (Updated)”
It’s on tonight in Bay-Waveland with both the Bay City Council and the Waveland Board of Alderman meeting.
The Bay City Council meeting has potential because Mayor Favre is making another school board nomination tonight. Rumor holds he will reappoint his son Casey Favre to the Board. I’m further advised the gang has checked out the legality of such an appointment and was told it is OK provided that Trustee Favre serves without pay. School Boards are not big spenders on their Boards with per diem set by statute so serving for free is not a big hardship. Given last year’s controversy that portion of the agenda has fireworks potential. The Bay City Council meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. sharp.
In Waveland the appointment of the new City Clerk is on tap. the Waveland Board of Aldermen meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.