The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday approved employee pay raises, a new nominee for the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission and lease negotiations for a new restaurant in the old city hall building.
The council voted 6-0 on Tuesday — Councilman Buddy Zimmerman recused himself for voting — to adopt a new salary schedule for the fiscal year which includes three-to-five percent raises for city employees, beginning in October.
The total cost to the city for employee salaries and benefits under the new budget is $6,724,077, including around $136,000 for the projected raises.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the city has adopted a budget that includes 24,683,785 in total revenues and 24,390,339 in total expenditures.
Councilman said the raises are necessary to help keep valued employees — particularly firefighters and police officers, who have historically been paid more in many other municipalities along the Coast.
Mayor Mike Favre said the raises will be more than paid for through cuts in other areas his administration has made in the past three years, leaving surplus funding.
Also on Tuesday, the council opened sealed bids from two different vendors to lease the Old City Hall building. Bridges World Life Center bid $100 per month for a three-year contract. Dunks Southern Kitchen — which formerly operated in the Waveland Business Incubator building on Coleman Avenue - bid $800 per month with.a one-year lease.
The council initially took the bids under advisement until later in the meeting to give city attorney Heather Ladner Smith an opportunity to review the proposals.
Ultimately, the council voted 5-1 to enter into lease negotiations with Dunks.
The council also ratified Favre’s recommendation and nomination of Aline Milazzo Ward to represent the city on the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission. Ward’s nomination has been sent to Gov. Tate Reeves’ office for approval. Ward will replace long-serving commissioner Robert Kane, who resigned last month.
In other action Tuesday, the council:
• Spread on the minutes the results of the August special election for the Mississippi Power franchise agreement. Voters approved the agreement 348-26.
• Approved street closures for Halloween trick-or-treating on Oct. 31 at Jackson Boulevard; Felicity Street; Corinth Drive at Dunbar Avenue; Highland Drive; the 300 and 400 blocks of deMontluzin Avenue; and Spanish Acres.
• Approved the agreement between the city and James J. Chiniche for the 2020 city-wide paving and road resurfacing project.
• Approved a motion to go out for RFQ for engineering and architectural services for the Depot area renovations, being paid for through Gulf Coast Restoration funds, administered by the Mississippi Development Authority, which were allocated by the Mississippi Legislature. Depot revitalization will include a state-of-the-art performance stage with lights; a retractable movie screen; expanded green spaces; a new playground; the relocation of the Alice Moseley Pavilion elsewhere on the grounds; adding a second pavilion near the BSL Community Center to accommodate weddings and other events; improvements to the Depot building, such as roof repairs, door replacement and painting; re-surfacing and widening the street and parking lot; building a handicapped-accessible comfort station; improvements at the duck pond such as LED lighting to create a “light show” and additional park benches and/or tables, as well as fencing to better separate the area from the railroad track; and removal of the palm trees at the Depot, replacing them with live oak trees and moving the palms to the beach areas around the marina, or Washington Street beach area.
There are also plans to close Keller Street and return it to green space to adjoin the community center; create lighted informational kiosks around the grounds; and plant new flowers, bushes and foliage with new signage in front of the Depot building. Local artists will also be asked to participate, contributing artwork around the grounds.
The council’s action on Tuesday allowed the city to request qualifications to select an architect for the project.
• Guaranteed support for the Martin Luther King Park splash pad project and other renovations at the park.
• The council took under advisement bids to demolish the old Bay police department. The bids included proposals from Bean Construction, $26,000; Concrete Busters of Louisiana, $94,900; Morreale Construction, $31,355; and Twin L Construction, $95,000.
• Heard from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission Cliff Rabalais, who spoke on a proposal for a development at 124 Court Street, which will include demolition of the Sea Coast Echo building. The Echo will move to another location in Bay St. Louis. Under the proposal, developers wish to create a Florida-style condominium, Rabalais said. The complete project will soon be sent to the city’s Planning & Zoning board.