Bay St. Louis Faces Uncertain Financial Future

Auditors are concerned that Bay St. Louis will not have enough money to pay its bills in the upcoming months. Three hundred and sixty nine thousand dollars, that’s roughly the amount of money Bay St. Louis will have to pay toward a line of credit in November.

Auditors told the City Council on Friday that they do not feel the city is generating enough revenue to pay off that debt. The council’s proposal: a property tax increase of five mills. Les Fillingame, Mayor of Bay St. Louis, says, “We’re really looking at trying to determine what capital we need and then how we’re going to fund it. It could require a little bit of tax increase.”

City officials say the increases are not as scary as they seem. With the proposed five mills tax increase, homeowners would pay an average increase of $50 for a $100,000 home. Another option is a $9 utility rate increase each month. Board members are split on the utility rate increase. Wendy McDonald, Bay St. Louis City Councilwoman for Ward 2, says, “I think it’s probably a combination. Utilities have to break even. You have to collect what you need to pay for the cost of operating the utility system. It needs to come from the utility customers.”

Another option discussed at Friday’s council meeting was personnel cuts, however city officials tell News 25 that option has pretty much been taken off the table. McDonald also says, “Honestly, I just don’t think the debts and the obligations of the city ought to fall on the employees. It falls on the residents, not the employees.”

The board is at odds over this measure too, but according to Mayor Fillingame, the council discussion is moving in the right direction. Fillingame closes, “I think the dialogue has been very good. I think the debate has been wide open and I think there has been a diversity of opinions that will cause all of us to meet somewhere in the middle and do what’s right for the citizens all across Bay St. Louis.”

There will be a public hearing on September 4th. The city must have a budget approved and submitted by September 15th.

Categories: Local News, News

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