The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday tabled a resolution to authorize a general obligation bond up to $6.5 million.
"I would request that we put this off until our next meeting," Councilman-at-Large Gary Knoblock said Tuesday after council President Larry Smith read the bond resolution from the agenda.
The council initially adopted a resolution in August that it might seek up to $8 million funding "for a variety of purposes, including constructing municipal buildings and facilities such as auditoriums or community centers; buying buildings or land; repairing existing city properties; upgrading and repairing existing streets, drainage and sewerage systems, sidewalks or parking facilities; constructing or repairing or improving bridges and culverts; constructing, repairing or improving wharves, docks, harbors and appurtenant facilities; altering or changing the channels of streams and water courses; and for related purposes."
In September, the city legally published its intent to seek the funds, hosted a public hearing and instituted a public comment period, but no official protests were filed, officials said.
After more weeks of discussion, the council determined it would seek the $6.5 million rather than $8 million.
Knoblock said Tuesday he was not against procuring the funds, he just felt that he hadn't had enough time to view the latest iteration of the resolution.
"I think we should move ahead with the $8 million," Knoblock said, "because I think we could do this if we manage our money correctly. I think if you come in with this $6.1 or $6.5 million, you might come up short."
Knoblock said unforeseen items like higher-than-expected engineering fees and consulting fees on the various projects could balloon the costs.
Ward 3 Councilman Jeff Reed renewed his concern that the people of Bay St. Louis should make the decision whether or not to make such a large investment.
"i"m still trying to wrap my mind around the interest we're going to pay back over the years," Reed said. "We're supposed to hold a two percent (bar and restaurant tax) referendum in December (to fund tourism). Since we're going to indebt the citizenry to such an amount, we ought to let the citizens decide then whether they want to pay this back. We're talking about 20 years, and I'm going to be 80 years old by that point, and I'm not sure I'll even still be here.
"I would like the citizens to say, 'yeah, we what to do this here,' or 'no, we don't want to do this here,' and December is next month -- we can put it on the (ballot with the) referendum and let the citizens decide."
Mayor Mike Favre said the city had already advertised its intent and conducted a public comment period, and there were no major objections.
"We had workshops, we had meetings, people attended those meetings and voiced their opinions," he said.
Favre said he was confident the city could pay for the bond issue without raising millage.
"We are a republic and the citizens have elected us to make the big decisions for them," Smith said.
Jason Thomas, a consultant with the Southern MississippI Planning & Development District, told councilmen the annual note on the bond would be roughly between $344,000 and $350,000, depending on the exact amount procured.
Ward 6 Councilman Josh DeSalvo said his ward badly needs the funds for drainage and infrastructure development, and it wouldn't be fair to put it to a vote because many of the property owners there are second-home owners and live elsewhere most of the time.
"I've got half a ward that doesn't live here -- these are second homes, so they're not going to be here to vote," DeSalvo said. "I'm their voice, here."
"If we couldn't afford this, that would be one thing, but we can afford this bond," Favre said.
Favre said the city could also use about a million dollars to build a new police station.
The old Bay St. Louis police headquarters became a health hazard due to mold, and the police were moved to temporary offices inside city hall last year.
"I'm not going to vote to approve a bond unless at least 75 percent of it is going to wards 5 and 6," Ward 1 Councilman Doug Seal said. "That's the biggest need, we all agreed on that, right? A million for a police station, I'll never vote for that.
"The rest of the money, we'll divide between the other four wards. I hate that the (note) is 20 years, the future right? But when you bought your house, did you decide to pay it off in five years? I didn't."
Knoblock said one of the main reasons he didn't want to approve the bond issue Tuesday because -- despite discussing it for months -- none of the councilman had yet come up with specific plans and projects.
"I guess what I'd like to see is, y'all get your wish lists together and let's talk about this" at the next meeting, Knoblock said.
In other action Tuesday:
• Ulman Avenue resident Roy Raush addressed the council to complain about bar noise in the downtown area and "ultra-vulgar song lyrics" being blasted into town in the municipal harbor area.
"Late night on Friday and Saturday, there's just pounding and pounding music," Raush said.
In addition, he said, "There's a trash problem. I actually got a trash picker and I drive up and down Ulman picking up garbage," including beer bottles, cans, fast-food wrappers and bags, "even a used condom."
"It's not the residents," he said, but the bar-denizens. "It's an on-going problem. It's been going on for years."
"That should not be happening," Smith said.
Seal said the city has an existing noise ordinance that should have already solved the loud music issue."
Reed said he believed the problem was more of an "enforcement issue."
Reed told Raush that the council appreciated his comments, but "it's up tot he administration to enforce the noise ordinance."
Favre said he would address the issue.