Rockco Grills Development Commission Director - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/30/02

Rockco Grills Development Commission Director

Nothing about the economic development commission's budget was off limits as Supervisor Connie Rockco asked question after question. For example, she wanted to know how much Commission Director Michael Olivier makes each year.

"How much is your salary," Rockco asked.

"I don't know I think about $160,000 something like that," Olivier replied.

When Rockco asked Olivier if he is also paid consulting fees, Olivier started asking questions of his own.

"Yeah, what does that have to do with..."

Supervisor Marlin Ladner says it has a lot to do with companies that ask the county for tax exemptions.

"If you're consulting with a firm or an organization and members of that organization are companies coming through the development commission to the board requesting tax exemptions, that's what it has to do with it," Ladner said.

Ladner had questions too. He questioned the legality of the commission using tax dollars to pay parking tickets for clients while they're meeting with Olivier.

"We're trying to make things easy for them to access this community and if they get tickets they worry about the fact they have to run down during the meeting and move their car. It's a two hour parking minimum," Olivier said.

"It's just not right," Ladner countered. "I don't want my tax dollars, and I don't think most citizens in Harrison County want their tax money, going to pay parking violations."

Rockco wanted more specifics about Olivier's efforts and results in bringing business to the county. He told her he provides that.

"That's true," Rockco says, "but there's some vagueness and I like to have specifics. And when people aren't really forthcoming on the public asking them for information, then it leads me to really want to examine things a lot closer."

Rockco says the commission may be doing a good job, but it still needs to be more accountable with taxpayer money, especially since it's the supervisors who give almost a million dollars a year in taxpayer money to the commission.

By: Marcia Hill

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