BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The office that Chief Building Official Ronald Jones occupied for the past three years is now empty. And after Wednesday, yet another desk in the department will be vacant after a building inspector retires.
Mayor Les Fillingame says the volume of post Katrina work has finally slowed down.
"At one point, you had virtually every residence in the city was being reconstructed, or rehabilitated, or repaired at the same time, and that's behind us," Fillingame said. "By and large, most people have finished repairs of their houses. We have a normal amount of new construction going on in Bay St. Louis."
The mayor estimates the cuts will save the city between $150,000 and $160,000 a year in salaries and benefits. There are now five employees left in the building department: three inspectors and two clerical workers.
"The majority of the activity in Bay St. Louis is residential construction. And the staffing that remains can very adequately handle all of the residential side of the construction process."
Building Official Ronald Jones was the second highest paid employee in the city, with a $65,000 salary. Only the mayor made more, at $80,000 a year.
Trimming the budget in the Bay may not end here, according to Mayor Fillingame.
"Everybody has seen an expansion of administrative activity to handle recovery management, and I think everybody is going to be faced with the same task now as we come out of recovery to scale those administrative operations back down to what normal city operations can sustain."
Charles Oliver, the man who oversees residential construction projects for the city, has been named the city's interim Building Official.