Retirement costs will impact Bay ’14 budget
By Cassandra Favre
Aug 20, 2013, 18:26
On Monday, Bay St. Louis city officials met for the second 2014 budget workshop.
Officials from departments within the city presented their personnel and budget needs for the upcoming year.
A big concern with the 2014 personnel budget is the nearly 1.5 percent increase in PERS in July. PERS is the Public Employees Retirement System and represents nearly all non-federal public employees in the state. PERS must now also be paid on part-time employees.
"We would have seen a decrease in personnel costs this year had it not been for the PERS increase in July," Mayor Les Fillingame said Monday. "The employers' part of PERS went from 14.2 percent to 15.75."
"The $6,195 Blue Cross Blue Shield standard insurance costs that we currently pay for each full-time employee is going to be re-negotiated by the end of this year, " Fillingame said. "Our claims are running extremely low this year compared to where we've been, so we are optimistic regarding negotiating insurance costs."
Fire Chief Pam San Fillippo told the council about the fire department's needs.
Ward Five Councilman Joey Boudin asked San Fillippo about an option for increasing revenue.
"Would it be possible to bill so much an hour for the fire truck that leaves out on medical calls?" Boudin asked. "I'm just looking for ways to recoup our costs."
San Fillippo said she would check with the fire marshal and inquire about precedents around the state that have been set for that.
According to San Fillippo, about 80 percent of the department's emergency calls are medical.
Another item of concern was the possible acquisition of an aerial truck, a fire engine carrying ladders.
"We need a ladder truck to get a good fire rating, they look at how tall buildings and apartments are," said San Fillippo. "It's one of those things when you need it, you need it."
Councilmen asked San Fillippo to acquire aerial truck specs, prices and billing for calls.
Ward Two Councilwoman Wendy McDonald asked San Fillippo if she is happy with the number of employees the department has now.
"During the day, there are four at the first station and three at the second station," San Fillippo said. "There are five full-time on each shift and part-time makes up for the other. I would like to have 14 staff on duty, for me seven (per shift) is the bottom line."
Public Works Director Buddy Zimmerman was on hand to present his department's budget.
Councilmen expressed concerns about grass cutting and ditch cleaning.
"It's been a rainy season," Zimmerman said. "We haven't been able to get out to cut and we've been having equipment issues.
"The Alamo tractor we bought has been having problems since we bought it, the grass cutting apparatus does not work properly, I believe we got a lemon." Zimmerman said.
"We have plans to catch up as soon as the tractor problems are resolved, we need more help and equipment in cleaning these ditches."
Police Chief Mike De Nardo said the police department budget increased this year due to the raise in PERS.
"I've received the most compliments and least amount of complaints about the police department," Ward Five Councilman Joey Boudin said. "Great job."
The total requested personnel budget is $6,072,725.
The next budget workshop is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26 at 3 p.m. regarding capital projects and at 5 p.m., non-profits.