Proposed FY 2015 Bay St Louis Utility Fund budget contains personnel cost reductions: An Editorial

Last night the Bay St Louis Mayor and City Council conducted another budget workshop. A full draft of the proposed budget was presented to the City Council and that draft proposed budget contained approximately $180,000 in direct personnel cost reductions in the Utility Fund, Mayor Fillingame told Slabbed after the meeting that the City is committed to removing all but direct Water and Sewer labor from the Enterprise Fund to the General Fund budget. This is an important step forward.

The overall City personnel budget has not been changed but last night’s actions set up a vital and long neglected public discussion. A few weeks ago at the Ward One Town Hall meeting I told the both Mayor Fillingame and Councilman Seal after the meeting that charging General fund salaries directly to the Water and Sewer Fund cheated the public of the very valid discussion regarding the level of City services which the citizenry should be properly paying taxes to support. It is without question both the Council and the Administration now understand the value in having this discussion as people across this town are making their feelings known to their elected officials.

Bay St Louis has the lowest millage rate of any City on the coast but that only tells a part of the story.  One mil is worth over $100,000 to the City and the value of a mil varies across the Coast. That said having lived and pay taxes in three of the six coastal counties I can also say it is undeniable that Hancock County in general and Bay St Louis in particular are the lowest cost locales of the three counties that I am personally familiar.

None of this is to say raising taxes is a foregone conclusion here in the Bay.  That said a discussion about property tax rates to support vital City services is one that the City has long avoided and frankly is long overdue for consideration.  How the Mayor and Council tackle these issues will depend in large part upon what they hear from the public in the Bay.  The Mayor was clear last night that he as well as the City Council are listening to the concerns of the people and that is a very encouraging sign.

Tomorrow night is another budget workshop that is scheduled to begin at 5:30 PM in the City Council Chambers.  I urge the public to attend and make their views known.

4 thoughts on “Proposed FY 2015 Bay St Louis Utility Fund budget contains personnel cost reductions: An Editorial”

  1. Doug,
    There a still a few unknowns such as what was the utility increase of last Oct. to the users in Wards 1 thru 4 in the Bay.
    What will be the increase this October?
    How will the city justify an increase in millage, especially in Wards 5 & 6 who have paid taxes in excess of 6 million over the last 8 years with little to no services. These people will probably demand some cuts in personnel to keep millage down, especially since they see no reason so far to expect much in return for what they pay and have paid.
    I hope the council devotes an entire special meeting to the millage increase that is coming to cover personnel or the personnel cuts to assure that it is no more than has to be done.
    Unemployment is growing in Hancock County, and the jobs that are available are high salaries.
    There are in excess of 40% of the citizens now in Bay St. Louis and Waveland on some kind of public assistance which is why the school children in grades Kindergarten through 8th all now qualify for free lunch.
    This morning the Sun Herald reported that Hancock County’s portion of the valuation tax assessors put Section 42 low income housing after Katrina has to be paid back. All of the coast counties and school districts have to chip in to get this done.
    I totally agree that our cities and county officials should have open discussions on millage increases for us explaining and justifying their approach to how they will levy us for the support of our local governments under the current financial circumstances.
    I am going to post all of the budget hearing dates later as they become scheduled.

  2. I have to comment haddanuff. Not “high salaries” Doug needs to publish the salaries of the staff in BSL. The public should know what some of the unqualified and non certified employees are earning. Then when that is revealed, everyone can comment as to where Napoleon is spending their tax dollars.

    Now that the mayor has shifted employee salaries to gen fund we will have to see how he will budget this. Another coastal town is not replacing any employees retiring and cutting other departments. Maybe Napoleon should take their lead. Getting personnel out of Utility Fund is important and a first step since these employees don’t belong there anyway. The Mayor has been using that money again to pay his daughter and other ones. But the fact still remains, the same amount of people. Where will they get the money.

    No wonder the Utility Fund is short. Paying people that really don’t belong just to give them jobs after the campaign and voting for you.

    Rumors are Buzz is retiring. That is a good place to start. And the Assistant to the Mayor. Is that position as important as the title? Do we have that much public business that the Mayor is too busy and has to have a helper. I did not even know this person existed until couple of weeks ago. That is how important he is. Between he and Buzz we could save almost $100,000 a year on salaries and benefits. Now that the harbor is finished what else is left for Buzz. Oh I know, he can sit out there now on the benches and look at it.

    Each depart should be evaluated to see who is qualified and “certified” to be in a position.
    Doug, please publish a copy of the Salaries for the public to read. Then maybe they will understand what financial crisis this mayor has put us in.
    Maybe his campaign slogan should be “vote for me and I will give you a job” since I hear his wife is out there telling people he is running again in 3 years. Oh Lord, please help us!!

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