by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
After a little under five months in office, Pass Christian Mayor Jimmy Rafferty offered his first State of the City Address on November 19, 2021, at the Pass Christian Yacht Club. The event was sponsored by the Coast Chamber of Commerce, The Gazebo Gazette and a group of other local businesses.
Mayor Rafferty began by stating that since taking office, “every day has been a learning experience.” He added that “it’s all about bringing people together to get things done and it’s all about partnerships, partnerships with people. That’s how we’re going to get things done.”
The Mayor began his list of important partnerships by mentioning the key role that City employees will play in getting things done. He went one by one introducing the leaders of each department and the important role they play in serving the citizens of Pass Christian.
Rafferty shared a series of PowerPoint slides that showcased the positive contributions of each of the five board of alderman.
He noted Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman’s key role in the highly popular Art in The Pass program, Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot’s support of the recent Leaders Against Litter event, Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball and Ward 4 Victor Pickich’s support of our firefighters at a recent major fire and Alderman at Large Kenny Torgeson’s support of the Pass Christian Harbor.
Additionally, Rafferty recognized his support and positive working relationships with other coastal mayors and the coastal state legislators. He stressed the need to foster a One Coast Partnership with Coastal leaders.
A number of accomplishments were highlighted; such as approving a new budget that increased by almost a million dollars and the approval of a 5.7% increase in salaries for City employees and the addition of four new positions, approval of the controversial West Pass Station Tax Incentive Financing District; implementation of a new employee Performance Management System with a possible pay element that still needs Board approval, and a new Golf Cart Policy.
Mayor Rafferty went out of his way to thank local businesses and organizations for their outstanding support for the City of Pass Christian. He specifically mentioned Sparklight’s donation of 20 laptop computers to the Boys and Girls Club of Pass Christian as well as positive contributions from Pass Christian Main Street, Pass Christian Yacht Club, Pass Christian Chamber of Commerce along with the citizens of Pass Christian.
So what are the mayor’s priorities for fiscal year 2022? He wants to establish a more effective working relationship with the Board of Alderman; improve the efficiency of City operations; improve customer service; work towards more “measured“ commercial development (West Pass Station,Downtown and in the East between Gulf Palms and Penthouse) and the full implementation of a Performance Management System for City Employees.
Also noted as “Aspirations” was the development of a Flood Mitigation Strategy, construction of additional phases of sidewalks on North Street by Pass Christian High School, enforcing a litter free City, adding recreational facilities, offering more events at the harbor, making the City “more inclusive,” and building a concrete boardwalk along the beach from the Bay Bridge to Long Beach.
Although not specifically mentioned as issues for 2022 , the Mayor and Board of Alderman will also have to tackle the need for street and infrastructure repairs and upgrades, sidewalk repair and construction on Scenic Drive and other areas throughout the City, citizen demand for teen and senior citizen recreation programs and services, resolving issues at the firing range as well as the challenge of meeting increases in current and projected new spending without raising taxes.
Citizens interested in watching the entire address can visit the City of Pass Christian’s Facebook page. Also stay tuned into The Gazebo Gazette for updates on issues, projects and City goals for the upcoming year.