Bay St. Louis city officials said last week that its citizens have the “power” to help continue to raise about $90,000 a year for the city’s coffers -- but only if they head to the polls next week and vote “yes” on the Mississippi Power franchise plan.
The Bay city council voted July 7 to approve a special election next Tuesday, Aug. 4, with only one item on the ballot -- “An ordinance granting a non-exclusive electric franchise to Mississippi Power Company, its successors, and assigns, the municipality of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.”
People who go to the polls may either vote for or against the ordinance.
“The city is looking to extend the partnership it has maintained with Mississippi Power for more than 50 years by continuing the city’s current franchise agreement,” according to a statement issued last week by Mayor Mike Favre and the Bay St. Louis City Council. “The franchise fee revenue received from Mississippi Power is used to maintain essential programs and services that our residents rely upon.
“This important revenue for our city cannot be obtained without you. A special city election is required for the agreement to remain in effect. We need your help to keep this constant revenue flowing into our city. Vote to continue our city’s franchise agreement with Mississippi Power.
State law requires that utilities pay cities two percent of residential and commercial revenues generated in our city.”
However, under the franchise agreement, Mississippi Power pays three percent of revenues to the Bay, which city officials estimate to be about $90,000 per year “that the city would have to find from other sources.”
“For more than 50 years, Mississippi has been paying us three percent of all revenues,” according to the statement. “These funds have been relied upon to provide essential programs and services within our city.”
If voters cast their ballots against the franchise plan, officials said, “the revenue will decrease to two percent and we’ll have to make up that difference in our annual budget.”
With the vote, administrators said, the funding level will remain the same for the next 25 years, and voting “yes” will not cause electricity rates to increase. However, city leaders said, “the city will receive less money from Mississippi Power if citizens vote ‘no.’”
Regardless of the outcome of the vote, it will not change the power provider where you live, since that is regulated by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, not the city of Bay St. Louis, according to the statement.
Absentee voting for the special election began July 20 and continues through this Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Office of the City Clerk at Bay St. Louis City Hall, located at 688 Hwy. 90. Through the week, absentee voters may cast their ballots from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; and from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday.
The deadline for voting in person by absentee ballot is noon on Saturday. The deadline for absentee voting by mail is 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 3.
City officials “strongly recommend” wearing masks when voting.
On Tuesday, Aug. 4, the polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at the following locations:
Bay High School
750 Blue Meadow Road
Bay St. Louis Library
312 Highway 90
Senior Citizen Center
601 Bookter Street
Christ Episcopal Church
912 South Beach Blvd.
645 Green Meadow Road
Bay St. Louis
Fire Station No. 2
9998 Highway 603