Bay council questions city finances

Bay council questions city finances

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Can the City of Bay St. Louis cover its debts? Mayor Les Fillingame believes it can, but some city council members have reservations. They have called a special meeting to take a closer look at a fund used to pay an outstanding debt.

Whether you are a drive thru customer or one who prefers to pay inside, Bay St. Louis utility users pay $13 on each bill for a debt obligation. It's a loan the city took out in the late 1990s to upgrade some aging sewer lift stations.

"All of that is collected and put in the utility operating account," said Fillingame.

That money is later transferred to a utility debt service account.

The trouble is some city council members are concerned that there is not enough money in the account to cover the city's next loan payment. While Councilmen Lonnie Falgout and Jeffery Reed spent Monday afternoon crunching numbers, Fillingame says there is nothing to be concerned about.

"To consider it a shortfall is ridiculous. There is no shortfall. The revenues have been collected, and they're in the operating account until we transfer them out to the debt service sinking fund. There is no shortage of capital anywhere. It's just a matter of settling out the accounts," explained Fillingame.

The mayor says right now that is done quarterly, but concerned councilmen would like to see the funds transferred monthly so they can be sure the money is there and not being used for any other purpose.

"If they want to see it done on a more frequent basis other than the quarterly basis that we've chosen because it's a little simpler from a book keeping stand point, they haven't expressed that," said Fillingame. "And if they choose to, as a council, want to see it settled to the debt service account differently, they just need to pass a resolution to that effect."

The council members who responded to our calls declined to comment until after Tuesday night's special meeting. That special council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers on Main Street.

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