BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - It's no secret leaders in Bay St.Louis are experiencing one of their toughest budget years ever. City officials were forced to raise property taxes and utility rates to make ends meet.
With money so tight, leaders in the Bay are now looking at other ways to generate funds for the city's most critical infrastructure needs.
They're looking to sell city owned assets to bring in cash. Sidewalks in certain areas of town are not a want. They are a necessity, according to city leaders.
"There is a tremendous amount of foot traffic in the mornings and in the afternoon for children. We really need to get them off the streets and onto sidewalks," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.
Fillingame said with no pathway on the roadside, a walk to any of the three schools off busy Bluemeadow Road can be dangerous for students.
"It is a complete safety issue in my mind. It's not even an amenity. It's a critical need," said Fillingame.
He and others said the situation is just as bad on Old Spanish Trail.
Bay St. Louis resident Pam Martin said, "A child ten years ago got hit and killed in front of the Senior Citizens Center. They don't have no where to go."
A grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation will pay for 80 percent of the cost of the three and a half mile sidewalk projects.
The city must come up with a 20 percent match about $180,000. With money tight in the Bay, coming up with the money has been tough for city leaders.
They recently voted to surplus and sell some city property in hopes of generating the funds. They've already found a buyer for the old city hall annex building on Court Street. They are also looking to put a for-sale sign out in front of a city owned building used by the Bay-Waveland Garden Club on Main Street.
They're also considering selling two city owned parking lots in the downtown area. Nancy Moynan's restaurant and gift shop is sandwiched between both parking lots.
"I think that would be a huge mistake to sell the parking lots because parking is at a premium. To sell prime property I think would be a detriment to any business or future business that wanted to open here," explained Moynan Owner of Maggie May's and Lu Lu's Restaurant.
But city leaders will have to do something and fast there is a December deadline for securing the MDOT grant. City leaders are expected to discuss the issue at a council meeting a week from Tuesday December 2.