Bay to host lottery for harbor slips
By Dwayne Bremer
Mar 25, 2014, 19:11
Artistís conception of the Bay St. Louis Municipal Harbor and Marina, which is scheduled to be complete in late July.
The city of Bay St. Louis will host a lottery for residents who wish to reserve boat slips at the new municipal harbor at the foot of Main Street.
The $21 million harbor is expected to open in late July and 163 boat slips are up for grabs.
Bay Harbor Commission member Lee Seal discussed the plan with the city council at a special meeting on Monday.
"We have about 30 people who have already expressed interest in reserving a spot at the harbor," Seal said. "We are trying to keep this as fair as possible."
Seal said residents can begin submitting applications on April 7, and the application process will be open for two weeks.
He said Bay St. Louis residents who apply will be given first priority, then county residents, state residents, and out-of-state residents.
Residency will be determined by the address on someone's drivers license, he said.
Seal said the harbor commission has formulated a fee schedule, which will use the size of the boat and slip to determine the rental fee.
Boat owners will rent the slips on a monthly basis, but discounts will be available for longer leases, he said.
Seal said information about the lottery will be available soon on the city's website, and the commission is also going to advertise in local media to spread the word.
Anyone with a question about the lottery can call city hall, Mayor Les Fillingame said.
To help promote the harbor, the commission has about $50,000 in grant funds for marketing, Seal said.
He said the harbor commission is looking into creating a website, doing social media marketing, and hiring a marketing firm.
The city council voted to allow the commission to seek requests for proposals for marketing firms and accept applications for the harbor master's position.
Ward Six Councilman Lonnie Falgout asked that the proposals be received within a month.
"We need to fast-track this thing," Falgout said. "I would like to see us have everything in line as quickly as possible."
Seal said about 50 people have already applied for the harbor master's position.
Once all of applications are received, he said, the harbor commission will whittle the list down and then make a recommendation to the council.
In other business discussed Monday, the council questioned Fillingame about the repayment of a tax-anticipation loan the city secured last year.
Last December, the city secured a line of credit against its anticipated tax revenue to pay outstanding bills owed to the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority and the county utility authority, officials said.
The deadline to repay the borrowed money was reportedly March 15, but Fillingame said the state only required that it be repaid by the end of the month.
Fillingame said the balance of the general fund loan was paid last week.
"The only reason that date (March 15) is there is because it is typically the date of ad valorem reimbursements," Fillingame said. "Our reimbursements did not come in until the 20th, but we sent the check off last week. Typically, as long as it is paid by the end of March, it's good."
Fillingame said the city will not be penalized for making the payment a few days after the 15th.
Falgout then urged Fillingame to step up efforts in collecting delinquent utility bills.
Falgout said there are still several large outstanding bills owed to the city, many of which are owed by businesses.
"Residents are one thing, but businesses should be able to pay their bills," he said. "This money is out there and we need to collect it."
Fillingame said that overall, collections have been better this year.
He said the city plans to sit down with some of its bigger customers who have outstanding bills to try to resolve the delinquencies.