Bay St. Louis ups city wages to attract, keep top talent

Bay St. Louis ups city wages to attract, keep top talent

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - There’s good news for Bay St. Louis city employees. The city council approved three to five percent pay raises starting in October at a net cost of just under $136,000.

That’s a big deal not only in the face of a pandemic, but also in the face of heavy competition to hire and keep top employees, especially police officers and firefighters.

Bay St. Louis City Councilman Larry Smith was clear about the city’s brain drain when it came to city employees.

“You train them, they leave,” said Smith. “It’s just a beast to try to keep good people.”

That’s why the city approved the pay raise as part of the overall budget.

“The focus this year was mostly on our first responders, but we do have raises throughout the city as well.” said Mayor Mike Favre.

And that will not only help attract new employees, but also retain them for the long term.

Police Chief Gary Ponthieux Jr. said the raise will put the city in a stronger position.

“Law enforcement is a very competitive market,” said Ponthieux. “There are a lot of openings throughout the Coast and throughout the nation. We’re going to be right in the middle of the road, but we’re always striving to get the best employees we can and provide the best compensation we can.”

That’s a consistent narrative among all first responders.

“Well, it boosts the moral in our department, definitely,” said Deputy Fire Chief Ronald Avery. “We’re glad that it’s approved and pushed through. And that’s part of Bay St. Louis pushing through this pandemic.”

Mayor Mike Favre said his early policies have put the city in good shape to make this happen, even during COVID-19.

“We have made cuts since we came into office three years ago,” said Favre. “And it’s starting to add up now. We’re starting to have some surplus of funds that we’re able to do more things with.”

Councilman Larry Smith also added “We have money left over in the reserves. In fact, we just had an audit this past Tuesday and we fared extremely well on that audit. So, we’re right where we should be and we’re very happy with that.”

Favre also said the city has received a $1 million from the Mississippi Development Authority to help build a new police station in the same place.

He said the demolition of the old station should begin in the next month.

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