Bay eyes utility rate increase
By Cassandra Favre
Aug 16, 2013, 20:12
On Thursday night, Bay St. Louis city officials met for the first 2014 budget workshop.
During the workshop, Councilmen discussed general fund revenues and utility fund expenditures.
This year, Hancock Tax Assessor-Collector Jimmie Ladner has evaluated the city's millage at 116,000.
Mayor Les Fillingame recommended rate increases in the building department.
"We have been painfully behind what the rest of communities have been charging for many years," Fillingame said.
Councilmen discussed funding non-profits and organizations that receive city gifts, including the Bay St. Louis Library.
"The county library system now has five libraries to support," Fillingame said. "We started assigning millage to the library when it was just the Bay-county library.
"We need to look at their budgets and see where the money is going and what is being utilized in our library."
"I would like to see exactly where the county is at and also what Waveland is contributing," Ward Six Councilman Lonnie Falgout said. "We need to know where all their revenue is coming from, we need to support this system and I don't have a problem with it. "We just need to see what their expenses are."
"Not just one of them, all of them, every organization that's asking for help," Ward Five Councilman Joey Boudin said.
Councilman also discussed raising utility rates.
"Probably the biggest issue the city is facing is on the utility side," said City Clerk David Kolf. "If you look at the water, sewer and wastewater rates, they are about 25 years old and are no longer covering the expenses of the system that's operating in 2014."
"We do have to increase rates to balance the budget," said Ward One Councilman Doug Seal.
"Even if the rates went up we would still be the cheapest on the Coast," Boudin said.
Fillingame encouraged councilmen to have reserve policies for the general and utility funds.
Councilmen approved scheduling a workshop during which all non-profits will present their budgets and needs. The council will send an invitation the all non-profits.
"We want to see foundation grants, operational budgets and what they are doing to serve the community," Seal said.
Upcoming budget workshop dates:
• Monday Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. Personnel budget
• Tuesday Aug. 20 at 4 p.m.
• Monday Aug. 26 at 5 p.m. Non-profit workshop.