BSL Council Update - January 5, 2021
In this report, Councilman Knoblock reports on exciting plans underway for the new Police Department building and improvements to the Depot District and building, in anticipation of train service by 2022.
My intention was to make it easier for the public to view the substance of the meeting early. Most of the discussions occur during Mayor's business and council business. I placed public forum afterward so timely comments could be made. I would appreciate feedback.
First item on the Mayor's report: Council approved the purchase of a new Kenworth single axle dump truck from Truckworx in the amount of $88,900. This truck was listed on the State Reverse auction site. Motion passed 7-0.
Second item: the Council approved the purchase of 4-Motorola APX 4000 radios along with software and accessories to replace older portable radios. The total cost came to $14,758.45. The Police Dept. received a grant from MS Dept. of Finance and Administration in the amount of $11,650.40, leaving a balance of of $3,108.05 which came from the Police Dept budget. Big shout out to Chief Gary Ponthieux, Jr., for seeking out these funds. Motion passed 7-0.
Next on Mayor's report: The Mayor nominated architectural and engineering services for the Bay St. Louis Old Town Police Department to Chiniche, PA, and Ed Wikoff Architects. Motion passed 7-0. Currently the City has approximately $1.5 million for the construction of the police department. Congratulations Jason Chiniche and Ed Wikoff!
Council New and Old Business
At the last Council meeting, Councilman Reed brought discussion concerning the Amtrak Rail improvements to the unloading area and the Depot Grounds improvement project. These are two separate projects.
The Rail Commission awarded the City $50,000, the County Board of Supervisors matched $25,000, and the City put in $40,000 for a total of $115,000.00 to improve and bring up to date the passenger rail platform. The City put this out for bid, and the Mayor nominated Chiniche, PA and Ed Wikoff Architects to design and oversee the project. Hopefully the Amtrak passenger trains will be stopping in BSL in March of 2022. The motion passed 7-0. Again Congratulations Jason Chiniche and Ed Wikoff!
The second discussion concerned the depot grounds renovation. As many of you may remember, the City was awarded $1.5 million from the state to revitalize the Depot Grounds. Council Jeffrey Reed formed a planning committee made up of three local architects – John Anderson, Larry Jaubert and Ed Wikoff – plus Terry Stolz, Lonnie Falgout, Gary Ponthieux, Sr., David Reso, Jim Mcphaile, Regan Kane, Art Clementine, Councilman Gene Hoffman and myself. Together, we designed a scope of work and made a presentation to the City Council.
The Mayor nominated Michael Reeves Architect to oversee this project. The motion passed 7-0. Congratulations Michael Reeves! I want to thank every person associated with this project including the Council, the Mayor, Senator Philip Moran, Rep. Brent Anderson, Hancock County Tourism director Myrna Green, and I hope I haven't missed anybody.
I brought up our cash balances in the Council discussion. The General Fund, operating after the bills were paid, had a balance of $1,525,441.94 which are carry-over funds not spent during the previous budget year. This is important because in January, February, and March the City collects the majority of the property taxes.
I suggested that $1 million be moved to the Municipal Reserve fund. My reasoning is based on several points. First, the Mayor stated at the last meeting that we may have to use bond funds to cover grant match funds. The streets to be repaved have been identified, and this would force us to cut out street improvements across the city. The Mayor said we would need about $900,000.
Second, the City has to pay for the cleanup from Hurricane Zeta. It’s my understanding that MEMA/FEMA has declared this a disaster area, but our match could be around $300,000 if we received MEMA/FEMA funds. It was my intention to move unbudgeted funds out of the General Operating Fund to be reallocated at a later date when needed.
After a lengthy discussion by the council, I made the motion to move $500,000 to the Reserve Fund. This was seconded by Councilman Reed. The motion passed 5-2 Councilman Josh DeSalvo and Councilman Larry Smith dissented.
Next on the agenda was Public Forum. No citizens signed up.
Consent agenda was passed by a vote of 7-0. Seven items were passed.
Jason Chiniche reported that cleanup of the BSL harbor to remove debris is scheduled to proceed very soon.
Final note: The City collected $342,489.72 in gaming and sales tax revenues.
As always, it’s a pleasure to serve as Council president. Call with any questions.
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