Diamondhead's new leaders focused on tax relief for residents

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - The coast's newest city now has new leadership. The six men who will make critical decisions for Diamondhead were sworn into office Monday night during a history making inauguration ceremony.

At 26, Blaine LaFontaine is the youngest member of the Diamondhead City Council.

"There are a lot of expectations of me and I hope to fill them," LaFontaine said.

First on his priority list is finding tax relief for Diamondhead residents.

"We have to overcome that obstacle."

But he and his fellow council members know that won't happen overnight.

"The taxes have been a hot topic with everyone," said Ward 1 Councilman Joseph Lopez. "We've got to try to bring the budget down a little bit. We're going to do that by economic development."

Diamondhead residents now pay both city and county taxes, plus property owners association dues. The residents are taxed at one of the highest milage rates on the coast - 34.25 mils.

"The budget is so important. We have got to focus on what we absolutely need, fund that and nothing else," Mayor Tommy Schafer said. "We don't want to expand this thing right now. We want to let the budget perform for a year or two, see where we're really going to be financially."

Ernie Knobloch has held a seat on the city council ever since the formation of the city. He was elected by the voters to serve as Councilman-At-Large. He said he knows there are some tough decisions that will have to be made.

"Like the police department situation, we have some things with drainage and roads and things like that. So I think now with this group, we should probably try to come up with kind of an overall view or plan for the future," Knobloch said.

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