First of all, a Happy New Year to all–hope your holidays were all you wanted them to be and the New Year will be successful for you. This year will be a year of “elections” or “decisions” if you will. Waveland will hold their municipal elections in the Fall, and if that seems far off, just wait. It will be here before you know it. Certainly the announcements and campaigning will be here soon. The Alliance will sponsor a political forum as we do for all the elections, so stay tuned if you are a candidate or simply a voter.
Events that have unfolded since the Bay St. Louis officials took the oath of office last July indicate that the Bay City Council needs to “elect” to see that their city’s bills get paid whether or not the Mayor does. They may have to “take the checkbook” away from him if need be. This is, of course, a figure of speech, but they do have the legal responsibility for seeing that the bills are paid, which could be to refuse to approve any more dockets until he pays the Solid Waste and Hancock County Utility Authorities what the city owes them. After all, these folks have dockets to pay as well. And using the excuse that they fell behind because they didn’t charge enough for utilities is ridiculous. That’s not the fault of the Utility Authorities. By the way, what happened to the $500,000 line of credit that was supposed to cover these utility bills? And, most importantly, what is the administration doing with the money the users are sending to city hall to pay these bills? The city does’t own any garbage trucks or employ any garbage workers. So what makes them think they can keep funds for a service they not only do not, but cannot perform? Amazing. Who knows what the list of delinquent bills looks like? Now we are hearing that Lowe’s has cut the city off for non payment; and heard it from RELIABLE sources.
And yes Virginia, a Purchase order is a binding legal contract. In a well designed procedurement system, something the City of Bay St Louis evidently lacks, it all starts with a “purchase requisition” (requisition for short) and once the applicable legal requirements are checked and met (including checking against the budget), a purchase order is then issued and an encumbrance created.
I mention this because it is clear none of this occurred with the purchase of the new Fire Truck for the Bay St Louis Fire Department, the State Auditor’s office was called in and a controversy created:
In order to follow the rules one must first know what the rules are and I’m wondering if there is anyone at City Hall with any sort of meaningful expertise on the proper financial operation of a Mississippi Municipality. I still cringe in horror knowing the City runs Quickbooks as its ERP package. Such is penny wise and pound foolish on so many levels.
Luckily there is no reason to take blind stabs in the dark when it comes to the proper fiscal operation of a Municipal Government since the good folks at Mississippi State University have been kind enough to post their 2013 Municipal Handbook on the internet free of charge for everyone, and by everyone I mean especially those located at City Hall in Bay St Louis. Chapter IX (that’s 9 for those of you that do not do roman numerals) has a great section on Municipal fiscal operations. It is not an exhaustive treatise on the subject but it pairs nicely with the 2010 Municipal Audit and Accounting Guide, which is also available free of charge from the State Auditor’s Website which goes into a bit more depth. Continue reading “The word he was looking for is “purchase requisition””
In the state of Mississippi the efforts of some public officials to exclude the taxpayers from their deliberations on the expenditure of public funds has reached epidemic proportions. The sad thing is that the weak laws in this state don’t offer much relief for the taxpaying public.
In one day we get to observe a state official, State Auditor Stacey Pickering, and his staff admit under oath their efforts to hide information not only from the public, but from a Judge.
Then the Bay St. Louis Mayor and City Council call a “special” meeting to finalize the purchase of a new fire truck that will come in at slightly over $500,000. The notice of the meeting went out the morning of the meeting. This doesn’t give John Q. Public much chance to make arrangements to listen or participate in the discussion of the purchase of this equipment with our hard earned tax dollars.
Perhaps the power brokers should not have stripped the public of that right to begin with but what’s done is done. Yesterday a reader noted even the Jefferson Parish coroner chipped in his two cents on this man made disaster:
HANCOCK COUNTY ALLIANCE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT OCTOBER 2013 NEWSLETTER
For those of you familiar with the Broadway musical, “Cabaret” the local, state, and national news is beginning to sound like a refrain from one of the shows numbers: “Money.” This past month has been a numbers game for those of us studying all of the figures.
For example there are $259,955 in delinquent utility bills in Bay St. Louis. Seven of these delinquent accounts were city employees until we published the list, then one paid. Shedding light can sometimes have positive results.
There is $187,000 delinquent utility bills in Waveland which includes a former Police Chief and Mayor. We hope these accounts can be cleaned up so the rest of us don’t have to continue to carry the burden because many on these lists are more than able to pay. And, it is only going to get worse now that both cities have increased rates. For those who just will not pay, there is a remedy, if our public officials will use it, and that’s cutting them off. They sure wouldn’t get by with this with Miss. Power, Coast Electric, or Cable TV. To review the complete lists of delinquent accounts go to Slabbed.org.
Thousands of parcels of property in Hancock County have been abandoned by the owners which results in a loss of ad valorem taxes when they are returned to the state. The latest hit to the ad valorem tax base in the county is the new formula for assessing taxes on the Section 42 and Section 8 housing complexes. According to Jimmie Ladner, this loss could fall in the laps of the rest of us to make up the difference. We may not like the news, but at least Jimmie will always tell it like it is. Continue reading “Guest Post: Hancock County Alliance for Good Government October 2013 Newsletter”
A few weeks ago someone knowledgeable of the operations of the City of Bay St Louis indicated to Slabbed the city was not being diligent in collecting past due water bills and this is important because of cash flow problems the City is experiencing overall. Cash flow problems in municipalities is not unusual per se as the majority of the property taxes come in from December through February and taper off greatly from there. The general subject gets arcane and technical very quickly but the City needs cash to pay payroll period and it’d be nice to have enough left over to pay the bills too.
Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government did the PRR work along with some analysis and this post would not be possible without her contribution and that of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government to the effort. First up is the list of major delinquent accounts and note that WLOX’s Al Showers in on that list owing over $500. Al, my best advice is to join The Advocate’s Richard Thompson and follow Slabbed immediately on Twitter because if I had to guess, those $100 water bills you are getting come partly from a leaky toilet and today I just happened to post on twitter a handy Youtube video on how to make the repair. Just guessing but I think Thompson has been close to militant on this issue because he covers folks like Jefferson Parish Councilman at Large Chris Roberts, a man that can make that repair in under 5 minutes at 5AM blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back. True dat Richard!
I was told City Clerk Kolf actually quit his job at the meeting, an action he later renounced. I’m reminded of the old phrase “Temperament for the trade” upon hearing such things from meeting attendees. And I’ll be frank in saying that if the City can’t remit it’s obligations to the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority then there is a major money problem at City Hall because the city is the collection agent for garbage fees.
Ms. Favre’s piece is chock full of BS and sophistry. I’m not blaming her because she snagged quotes from management and the City Council. Rather, I’m amused at Kolf trumpeting the 2012 audit when the preliminary copy obtained by Slabbed contains major internal control weaknesses identified including double payment of vendor invoices, which in turn means internal controls over non payroll disbursements are virtually nonexistent. Continue reading “Sunday Coastal B’s: Bay Tech, Bentz and Bay St Louis broke?”
The first story is still in its original form while the second was updated. It is unclear who the 22 residents are who filed suit against the Hancock County Board of Supervisors using the services of Goatherder lawyer Henry Laird as neither story mentions them and it may well be none ultimately have any standing to sue but Harris updated her story with comments from the property owner, American Legion Post 139, which is the exact context I heard about this budding controversy originally. Specifically:
The county has leased the property from American Legion Post 139 for 25 years, but the lease expired in November, post Commander Clayton Thompson said. Board attorney Ronnie Artigues said supervisors have been in negotiations to buy the property.
The board will meet Monday to discuss renewing the lease monthly until the property can be purchased, he said.
So the county constructs bathrooms on property it did not have any legal rights to and for some inexplicable reason did not bother to renew the lease on the property, which expired last November electing to break ground instead. Ignorant does not quite do the actions of the Board of Supervisors justice in this circumstance but earlier this month Bay Waveland School Board President Sherry Ponder attempted to swear in a school board member that had not yet been been appointed to the school board by the City. Sources indicate to Slabbed Ponder lashed out at the Alliance for Good Government member that pointed this out in the school board meeting which makes one wonder exactly which local government is more clueless, the School Board or the Board of Supervisors.
OTOH not much good law gets practiced when a Goatherder is involved so this one has FUBAR potential written all over it so it is worth keeping an eye on. This is about more than just building flood mitigated bathrooms IMHO.