Waveland aldermen working without pay, furlough some workers

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - A city of 3500 people will be protected by one firefighter and one police officer. Those are just some of the drastic actions the city of Waveland made Friday in order to keep it running.

The alderman also slashed the work force from 64 full time employees to just 20. The latest furloughs are all part of a plan to meet the budget needed in order for the city to operate.

"This current fiscal year is still showing us to be $981,000 in the red," said Waveland Mayor David Garcia.

Waveland is out of money. The city needs $222,000 a month to run. And that's money that's just not coming in. Last week's layoffs and staff shifting moves weren't enough.

"Everybody, as of this morning, has been furloughed until at least Tuesday. In all likelihood, that will continue for an indefinite period of time until such time as the revenues exceed the expenditures. Possibly until the next fiscal year, which will be October 1," said Waveland City Attorney Gary Yarborough.

Mayor Garcia said the city will operate with a skeleton crew.

"You're going to have one firefighter on duty per shift. You're going to have one police officer on duty per shift. You're going to have four people total in Public Works, that's counting streets and utilities total."

"Mayor, can we run a city like this?" Ward 1 Alderwoman Lili Stahler asked at Friday's meeting.

"Actually, yes, I think we can," he responded. "It's going to be tough."

Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber extended a helping hand.

"Y'all are going to have one police officer here. Y'all, we're going to back him up. We do anyway," the sheriff said. "We're here. We're going to work with y'all. We're not going to leave the citizens of Waveland hanging,"

Then Alderman Mark Kidd surprised the crowd with an offer to give up his salary.

"I'm not in it for the money. I just want to do what I can for the city, so if my pay can be cut," Kidd said.

Alderman Shane LaFontain and Stahler made the same offer.

"I agree with Mark," LaFontain said.

"I'll take zero," Stahler said.

Kenny Hurt, who was just appointed as Waveland's police chief last week, will head back to the Hancock County Sheriff's Department. The city simply can't pay him. Still, he promised to help the city during his off time with no pay.

Waveland residents will also be asked to help balance the city's budget. There's a proposed tax increase on the table. The city is considering raising property taxes about $100 a year on a house valued at $75,000.

Before that could happen, the city has to hold a public hearing, and then the board will vote. But that won't until after Labor Day.

Monday, Mayor Garcia will go to Jackson to meet with the State Auditor's Office to help hash out some kind of financial survival plan for Waveland. He'll present that plan to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday.

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