Gautier leaders shake-up city hall to improve business operations

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - There's a shakeup happening at Gautier City hall to ensure the city remains a good steward of taxpayer dollars. The move comes after two fiscal years of budget hiccups.

Gautier's new city manager Samantha Abell said she and the city council are focusing on ways to do business better. This move comes after the city faced bond payment problems last year and a nearly $1 million budget shortfall this year.

"There were some missed payments, there some miscalculations with our property ad valorem. They did report those errors, but the issue was that reporting never got to me and it didn't get to council," Abell said.

Abell said to make sure these problems never happen again, the council has agreed to remove the finance department from under the city clerk's office.

"The comptroller will report directly to me, so I will be able to be more involved in the preparation of our budget, and also just where we are financially on a day-to-day basis."

The city also created a new human resources department, so a special team can focus on personnel matters.

"It might surprise some to realize that the City of Gautier last year had 151 employees and didn't have a HR department. Our employees deserve someone giving them their fullest attention," Abell said.

Plus, the city clerk will now be hired by the city manager and not appointed by the council.

"Take the politics out of if, take the personalities out of it and have greater accountability."

Employees like Cynthia Russell agree the shakeup is good for the staff and it will also benefit citizens in the long run.

"We had so many different people in different job duties under there. I just feel now that we have separated it, it is just going to more accountability. I don't see where we could go wrong with this, Russell said.

Gautier's old city clerk resigned earlier this year, and the deputy clerk has since stepped in to fill that position.  The city didn't hire new employees for the finance and human resources departments. Instead, the city manager did some reorganizing to fill those positions.

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