Council Updates - July 2020
I’ll start off with an overview of what the city has been awarded in terms of grants, and project funds.
First a brief history: Each year the council votes on a priority list of city projects we would like to fund with Go MESA funds, Tideland funds, MDA funds and many other types of federal and state funds. It takes years for these funds to be approved and awarded.
This term and fiscal year, we have been very successful in securing funds. Here is the list:
- $1.5 million to revitalize the depot (with MDA funds, also known as BP funds).
- $1 million for a new police department (MDA funds).
- approximately $650,000 to repair the drainage issues on Estabrook and St. John (CBDG funds - this was filed and pending final award).
- $650,000 in Go Mesa funds to build the boat launch on Hwy 603 known as the "Cave” (the land has been purchased. In the Bay St. Louis Harbor, we are currently working on Pier 5 and the day pier extension, paid with Tideland funds and $1 million the county provided to complete the project).
- $100,000 in ADA improvements for the depot in anticipation of Amtrak commuter rail services (approved by the Rail Commission, with a $25,000 match approved by the Hancock County Board of Supervisors July 20).
- $10,000 for MLK Park splash pad ($10,000 approved by the Hancock County Board of Supervisors July 20).
Remember, by adding Pier 5, the city estimates increased revenues of 100k per year in slip rentals. Depot revitalization will attract events, like MOPAR in the Bay, Cruisin’ the Coast, and concerts and help attract thousands of visitors to our city each year.
I voted "no" to allowing this agenda amendment because I was provided with bonding financial numbers only an hour before the meeting. Due to the COVID crisis, the bond has not been a discussion item with the council since we last spoke of it late last year. Mine was the only “no” vote on amending the agenda. The final council vote was 6-1 to amend the agenda.
As I read the street paving report provided by the city engineer right before the meeting, I noted that city drainage improvements that had been previously discussed had been removed. It was my understanding that Project 27 urgently needed attention (it’s a natural waterway that runs on both sides of Highway 90 in the middle of the city and is problematic now, causing localized flooding). We had also talked about Highland and Esplanade culverts that need opening up and repair work, as well as expanding the inlet that runs under Dunbar Avenue (on the side of Dunbar Village). Vine Circle issues were also not addressed in the proposed project list.
I recommend watching the video of the meeting to see the exchange and questions that I asked during the discussion. (To watch the video, click here, pick the July 21 meeting and hit “video.” The early discussion on the bond starts at 2:50)
If anybody wants a list of streets included in the projects now, click here to see the PDF of the current proposal. The final projects have not been approved. We will hold workshops on the projects in the near future. We haven’t set a date yet, but I’ll keep you informed.
I want to clarify that I am in no way against the bond, but drainage does need to be addressed because newly paved streets won’t last very long if they’re frequently flooded. My concerns stem from the fact that I am the Councilman-At-Large, and represent all citizens equally.
We did go into executive session to talk about harbor litigation, and real estate negotiations pertaining to the sale of the Garden Center.
Below, you'll find a very basic basic concept sketch of possible Depot District considerations. Plus, I've included information about a very important city election on August 4.
Proposed Depot District improvements
Important August 4 Voting info
"The City of Bay St Louis 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.
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.
For more than 50 years, Mississippi Power has been paying us three percent of all revenues (residential, commercial and industrial) generated in our city. These funds have been relied upon to provide essential programs and services within our city.
A vote ‘yes’ does not raise rates.
We hope you’ll vote YES!!! Here’s what you need to know:
• Mississippi Power currently gives the city 3 percent of revenue earned from Bay St Louis customers.
• If voters decide to vote NO, the revenue will decrease to 2 percent and we’ll have to make up that difference in our annual budget. That is about $90,000 that the City would have to find from other sources.
• The funding level will remain the same for the next 25 years.
• Voting YES will not cause electricity rates to increase.
Your power provider won’t change at all based on the election results. But the city will receive less money from Mississippi Power if citizens vote NO.