by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

As promised by Pass Christian Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott, the first item on the agenda for the March 16th, 2021 Board of Alderman meeting was the proposed sale of city owned property at the corner of Clark Avenue and Second Street. The Mayor began with, “The question is, do y’all want to sell it?”

Ward 1 Alderman Buddy Clarke immediately jumped in and made a motion to sell the whole piece of property instead of dividing it up. Then, Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot commented, “Before I say whether I want to sell the whole thing or not, I would like to know what it appraised for.”

The Mayor retorted, “Well I’m going to explain that to you Regina.  It costs money to appraise it. So if we find out If you want to sell it, I’ve got an appraiser sitting there that’s going to go out there Thursday to appraise it.”  He further commented that he couldn’t get it appraised until the Board made a decision on whether to sell the lot.

Bringing back memories of “you have to pass the bill to know what’s in it”, Alderwoman Charlot asked why the Board needed to approve the sale of the property without knowing what it’s worth.

Alderman at Large Kenny Torgeson tried to offer an explanation to the alderwoman by stating that the Board needed to authorize the sale of the property before getting an appraisal;  otherwise it would be “just a waste of time”, Charlot immediately responded with “not necessarily.”

She followed up with “If we’re going to sell it we need an appraisal”  and stressed that the appraisal was needed to see whether or not the City should sell the property.

Finally, McDermott asked Charlot, “So what you’re telling me is that when you get an appraisal on a piece of property that’s been sitting there since 1936, then you’ll know whether you want to sell it or not?”  Charlot responded, “That’s what I’m saying”.

Ward 3 Alderman Anthony Hall stated his concern regarding the increasing value of this property due to the eight million dollar project planned for Market Street. After another ten minutes or so of back and forth discussion the Board voted 4-1 to sell the entire piece of property and to authorize the Mayor to get an appraisal. The only dissinting vote was from Alderwoman Charlot who insisted on an appraisal being done before voting to sell the property. Following the vote, McDermott and Clarke confirmed that if the Board didn’t like the appraisal they could simply reject it.

The Board invested taxpayer dollars to support a band for the 2021 Jeepin the Coast event in the amount of $2,500; ratifying the City’s final contribution of $12,952 to the Trinity Dog Park; annual donation of $2,000 to the Pass Christian Volunteer Fire Department; $500 to remove a downed tree on a City right-a-way; $23,226 to Kohl Electric for electrical repairs to the bridge in the East Harbor; $4,248.67 to Dock Boxes Unlimited Inc for slip power box repair parts; $4,572.50 to Overstreet & Associates; $5,782 to Benvenutti Electrical Apparatus & Repair Inc to replace a motor at the Oak Park Pump Station and the Claims Docket in the amount of $126,983.98.

In other business the Board approved tax exemption requests for both the Robin’s Nest in The Pass LLC and Robert’s Place on Davis Ave. Just like other previously approved properties, these properties also qualify for tax exemption status under the City’s Economic Development and Recovery Plan under the Tax Exemption Program. The current program is scheduled to end on January 1, 2023. The Ballroom Dancing Group was granted permission to use the Randolph Center for Monday night classes from 6-8 pm with all fees being waived.

Based on recommendations from Police Chief Daren Freeman and Fire Chief Dwight Gordon, a request for a speed bump for Courtenay Avenue was turned down. Both Chiefs cited the potential damage to personal and emergency vehicles alike.

The City approved a request from Rimmer Covington Jr to lease and modify slips on the pier next to Shaggy’s. The modified pier on the pier north of Shaggy’s will be used for charter boats and will be done at the owner of Shaggy’s expense.  Once the new charter boat slips are completed on the south side of Shaggy’s, the modified slips will revert back to the City at no cost to the taxpayer.

The Board unwittingly set precedence on new signs allowed in the Pass Christian Harbor by approving the installation of a 32 square foot LED electronic message board and a 100 square foot wall sign on the north facade and a 100 square foot wall sign on the west side of the TBT Butcher Shop & Seafood Market located at 102 East Beach Boulevard.  According to City Attorney Malcolm Jones, since there “are no standards” for signs in the harbor, “the Board could do whatever it wants.”

Due to the Municipal Primary Elections being scheduled on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021, the next meeting of the Pass Christian Mayor and Board of Alderman will be held on Monday, April 5th, 2021, 6 pm at the City Auditorium/Court House.