Bay St. Louis Discusses Vacation Rental Properties

A meeting Tuesday night in Bay St. Louis helped decide the fate of vacation rental properties in the area. Some feel they’re a nuisance, but others think they may help bring additional revenue into the city.

Last month’s budget deadline was a tough time for the City of Bay St. Louis, but they approved a budget, increased city revenue, and are moving forward. So what’s next on the agenda?

Some residents are looking for the city’s help after complaints have been made about vacation rental properties. Linda Watson, a retired teacher, says, "I live by a vacation rental by owner and I want some regulation by the city and thought that while we were discussing whether it was legal or not to have these rentals, we could discuss some tax base that we could gain from these rentals."

Residents feel the rental properties and surrounding communities are being abused by renters and are calling for city regulations. Some have complained of property damage, excessive noise, and thefts near rental properties.

Property owners and realtors were on hand to state their case as well, but city officials feel, if regulated, these properties could increase tourism and bring revenue into the city. Lonnie Falgout, Bay St. Louis Councilman for Ward 6, says, "This is not, we’re not trying to eliminate, we’re trying to help them. We have a large real estate and some of these people need to pay the sales tax and the tourism."

Tuesday night’s meeting discussed vacation rental properties as well as potential fees for renting city property, like the harbor, for events.

Both of these could be used to generate revenue, which will be good for a city that just came out of some tough financial times. Falgout also says, "We’re getting ready to make that turn. The harbor has been a tremendous boost for us. There was a gentleman who just announced the $3 million economic package on first block and main. In my area, there are about 15 new houses about to go up in the next six months."

The city listened to public comments Tuesday evening and discussed calling a public hearing at a later date to work out a compromise. In the meantime, residents feel the future is looking bright.

Watson closes, "Some of us have built our retirement homes here because we have faith in the community, and right now, you see after this last week of Cruisin’ the Coast, everyone is so complementary. It’s what we already knew, it’s what we already loved, and it’s what we’re trying to protect."

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