UPDATED: Bay debt plan moves forward -- WORKSHOP NEXT TUESDAY
By Dwayne Bremer
May 12, 2014, 09:05
The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday voted 4-3 to approve starting the process of refinancing a $1.4 million municipal bond and adding another $2.4 million for capital improvements.
The move will allow the city to have some cash-flow relief and money for future projects, Mayor Les Fillingame said, but it could potentially result in a new millage for city residents.
Tuesday's motion allows the city to begin the refinancing process;
however, a final decision on the matter will not be made until the council has an opportunity to review the figures and discuss the pros and cons of the bond, officials said.
"This is just the first step," Council President Wendy McDonald said. "We are not saying we are doing it, we just want to know what the numbers are."
Ward Five Councilman Joey Boudin, Ward Six Councilman Lonnie Falgout, and Councilman-at-Large Mike Favre voted "no" on the measure.
At a workshop prior to Tuesday's meeting, Fillingame asked the council to consider his strategic plan, which he said will solve many of the city's financial problems.
"It is time for the city to restructure its debt," Fillingame said. "Money is tight and it will continue to be tight. Doing this would give us a lot of relief in the short-term and allow us to add capital for projects going forward."
In 2005, the city obtained a $4.2 million general obligation bond for sewer and infrastructure projects.
The city still owes about $1.4 million on the bond and a $397,000 payment is due in October, Fillingame said.
Fillingame said the city would be able to skip the current payment due in October and have $2.4 million for future projects.
Fillingame listed a number of projects which the city has planned,
The bond would be paid back on a term of ten years, and Fillingame suggested the city dedicate three mils every year to pay the debt service.
Fillingame said it would ultimately be up to the council to decide whether to increase millage or take it out of the current 17.75 general fund mils.
Several councilmen indicated they would consider raising millage if it would be in the best interest of the city.
Ward Six Councilman Joey Boudin said he would only consider raising millage if it was "the last resort."
"I can't look the people in the eye and ask them for more taxes unless I know we have done everything we can to cut waste and try to generate more revenue," he said. "Then I would consider it, but I think we can do some things and not have to raise millage."
Boudin suggested the city consider billing for medical calls to which the fire department responds; cutting out all non-essential overtime and take home vehicles; and selling the old city hall building on Court Street and the former pole yard on Bouslog Street.
"We can do a lot of things instead of kicking the can further down the line," Boudin said.
Ward One Councilman Doug Seal suggested the council hold another workshop next Tuesday to discuss cuts and ways to generate revenue.
"Everyone needs to do their homework and bring a list of things they want to cut and implement," Seal said.