PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - In less than two months, Pascagoula Mayor Dane Maxwell will be bidding his office farewell. He’ll take over as the Southern District’s Public Service Commissioner on Jan. 2, 2020.
Over the past two years, Maxwell has had his fair share of hard work.
In 2018, the city was faced with a $14 million deficit after discovering false documents from the previous administration. Layoffs and proper financial management got the city back on track.
“It was challenging. We came in with a $5.5 million surplus on paper. Almost through the first year when we started finding out that these various line items weren’t adding up and the money just wasn’t there, we ended up getting our own folks to audit. We got a forensic audit. We got the state auditor in here and all cleaned up,” Maxwell said. “We have a little bit left to pay but we’re probably on betting footing than we’ve been in the last 50 years.”
Coming into office, the mayor said there were three things people in the community wanted fixed or corrected.
“The top three things in the campaign that people said they wanted me to fix was the EPA problem because a lot of people didn’t want to live next to a Superfund site. Well, it had actually never been put on the Superfund site. It had been listed for adding but never got added. We were able to add it. Using the Trump leverage, we were able to add it to the list, put to the top and fully funded with the help of Sen. (Thad) Cochran. And that was $107 million and it was the first one we got accomplished six months out of the gate. So it really revved engines up of all the staff because they were like let’s go after the next one!
“The next one was pave Market Street. With the deficit and lack of money, the (Jackson County) Board of Supervisors jumped in there and they paved Market Street for us.
“Then the next was do something with the red lights on Market Street. And next week, the Board of Supervisors helped us through some funding that they had. We’re going to be synchronizing all the red lights on Market Street for the first time in 30 years,” Maxwell said.
In a “Moment with the Mayor” posted to Youtube on Nov. 15, Maxwell laid out some big deals he’s secured for the City of Pascagoula. Click here to watch that video.
The biggest deal Maxwell said he’s the proudest of is funding from the EPA to clean up Mississippi Phosphates.
“If I had to pick one big one it was the first one I tackled,” he said. “The first time I ever met with an investor here they had talked about putting a manufacturing facility out on Industrial Road, and they didn’t do it because they didn’t want to be next to Mississippi Phosphates. Leveraging a relationship that I had with the administration to get the funding for Mississippi Phosphates and to clean it up because that’s $107.4 million they gave us. That doesn’t happen," he said.
The mayor said he’s still working deals for the city and letting staff take over the process while transitioning into his new role as Public Service Commissioner.
Maxwell will serve as mayor until his swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 2, 2020. Mayor Pro tempore Steven Burrows would serve as acting mayor until a special election is held.