Bay St. Louis city leaders scramble to close financial gap

Bay St. Louis city leaders scramble to close financial gap

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - City leaders in Bay St. Louis are scrambling to ensure operating expenses end the year on budget. The fiscal budget year has reached the half-way mark, and signs of a shortfall has ignited cause for concern.

Land line telephones are vital to running a city, and a major expense to a municipality. In Bay St. Louis, the phone system, which is linked to all city government buildings, cost the city about $80,000 a year. City leaders are hoping to answer a call for financial relief by switching to an internet based phone system.

"We had actually anticipated cutting our budgeted cost in half for the full year, but we haven't been able to integrate that system into that internet service yet,"  said Mayor Les Fillingame.

City leaders are facing a $230,000 budget shortfall. They are now re-evaluating how every penny is being spent.

Bay St. Louis Councilman Joey Boudin said, "Time is of the essence. We need to be moving on it. We don't want to wait until the end of the year and have to take $230,000 out of the reserve account to finish out the year."

Councilman Joey Boudin said tough times may call for drastic cost saving measures.

"Maybe stop taking some of the vehicles out of the city for lunch, park some of the city vehicles. Maybe freeze some traveling, stop some overtime. People pay for that. We may need to shutdown the new hires, freeze all spending," said Boudin.

Citywide street lighting is another big expense to the city, a whopping $315,000 a year. The mayor would like to see a standardized policy.

"I know last year the county went to a policy of only lighting intersections and bad curves. I wouldn't want us to get that drastic, but we could have some placement standards. Not more than one light every 500 feet, 1,000 feet, whatever the case might be," explained Mayor Fillingame.

Each council member and the mayor was tasked with coming up with cost saving measures for the city that will be considered at April's city council meeting.

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