Residents react: Bay budget battle hurting the city

Residents react: Bay budget battle hurting the city

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - An explosive meeting in Bay St. Louis had the city talking on Wednesday. City council members took a vote that could force the city's mayor to eventually step down.

The vote, which stems from a Department of Justice investigation, has been the topic dominating the headlines for months. Council members want to know what happened to $300,000 in drug forfeiture money issued to the city for the police department by the DOJ.

According to an independent auditor, the money was placed in the city's general fund and spent on operating expenses.

Council members voted to replace the money spent by taking it out of the city's cash reserve account. They then voted to go after the mayor's insurance bond to replenish their cash reserves.

"It's called first party insurance and that's what this is. It replaces funds that you or your employees were responsible for stealing from either a company or a third party," said Bay resident Adriana Metcalfe.

Most city mayors are bonded for $100,000; an insurance policy designed to repay a debt if an elected leader or an employee who deals with cash is found to be dishonest with public funds.

If the debt exceeds the amount he or she is bonded for, that person could lose the position.

"The people are the only innocent party in this whole thing and to think they would have to give up their reserve fund without any attempt to recover that reserve. You're having them give up projects like sidewalks which they are all begging for throughout the city, and other improvements, and we don't know what emergencies could come up. They provide these public officials with bonds, let's use them," said Lana Noonan, President for the Alliance for Good Government.

The lunch crowd says the dissension between the mayor and city council is doing no one any good, and is actually hurting the city.

"Instead of everybody working together to help the city run effectively, efficiently and we will have a good reputation there seems like there is this combative attitude where it's them against us," said Tina Richardson.

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