by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
Hot on the agenda for the October 5, 2021 meeting of the Pass Christian Board of Alderman was the proposed $57M West Pass Station project. At question was the need for the developer to obtain approval to use Tax Increment Financing Plan (TIF) which would allow the developer to recoup an initial investment of over $8M in infrastructure.
After a lengthy explanation by former Vicksburg mayor and grant writer Lawrence Leyens, Board members were given ample time to speak about the project. When the floor was opened for public comments, almost 20 residents rose to ask questions and/or state their opinion on the matter. Some were for it and some were against it.
In addition to the standing room only crowd, over 100 people were live-streaming the meeting. Furthermore social media has recently been inundated with folks offering their own opinions on the matter.
In the end, the Board voted 2-3 against granting TIF support to the developer. Voting against the measure were Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot, Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball and Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich.
Although Mayor Jimmy Rafferty didn’t offer his position on this project, in a later interview with WLOX, the mayor not only stated his support but he also promised to add it to the agenda for the next Board meeting.
Due to the complexity of this matter, the need for additional information as well as the inclusion of comments from local leaders regarding this matter, The Gazebo Gazette will offer a separate feature article on this controversial project.
In financial matters, the Board approved a one year fitness membership at a cost of $500 that allows firefighters to use Top Gun Gym while on duty, the measure barely passed 3-2 with Alderman Victor Pickich and Alderman Kirk Kimball voting Nay; $3,368.52 for an annual service agreement for a Canon Scanner for the Planning Department; $36,968.20 for the purchase of a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe from Rogers Dabbs Chevrolet for the Police Department; $600 donation to Main Streets’s 2021 Farm to a Table Event and $363,873.43 in Claims Docket Docket expenses.
On another note Alderman Pickich questioned the Mayors’ ever growing expenses associated with going to training programs and conferences. He noted that the previous mayor rarely ever traveled and if he did it was at his own expense.
Also approved was the Pass Christian Library’s use of and waiver of fees for the City Hall Courtyard on Sunday, October 17, 2021 for Pollinators in the Pass as well as their request to use the City Courtroom for a panel discussion on domestic violence on Thursday, October 21, 2021 beginning at 6 pm; they authorized Boy Scout Conner Smith’s request to earn his Eagle merit badge by repainting the M60 tank located in War Memorial Park; monthly updates regarding Pass Estates will be added to the agenda and O’Dwyer Reality was recognized for their gracious $1,800 donation to the Police Department to purchase a speed limit sign.
In the personnel arena, the Board approved the termination of the Deputy City Court Clerk; the hiring of Terrell Billiot as the new Recreation Assistant in the Recreation Department and the appointment of Ellen Berry Adams to the Historic Preservation Commission, with her term ending December 31, 2024.
The mayor lauded Adams for both her willingness to serve on the Commission as well as her extensive community service experience.
Other matters of import include Board approval to seek an appraisal for the potential purchase of 3.5 acres located next to the Public Works compound, with vote passing 4-1 and Alderman Kimball being the only dissenting vote; the acceptance of a bridge report from Tadlock Services that recommends reducing load limits and the need to make plans to either temporarily repair and/or replace the bridge on East North Street near the intersection with Morton Avenue and the Board agreed to move forward with changing the golf cart ordinance in an effort to both expand the use of golf carts within City limits as well as to bring the ordinance in line with new legislation passed by the State legislature in 2021.
The next Board of Alderman meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 6 pm in the City Courtroom/Auditorium.
Items assured to be on the agenda include the West Pass Station project and the new golf cart ordinance.
Residents can either attend in-person or live stream the meeting via the City’s website.