by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/AP Member – editor@thegazebogazette.com

In the final special called meeting to approve the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, the city of Pass Christian adopted the proposal by a 4-1 vote with Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot being in dissent Wednesday, September 14, 2022.  In a separate vote, directed towards the city and school district mills, the vote was unanimous 5-0.  

Following a collaborative effort from all five of the city’s board of aldermen, the finished product became focused on the longevity pay for city employees as recommended by Aldermen Kirk Kimball and Victor Pickich.  The compensation plan suggested by the aldermen of Wards 3 and 4, respectively, gave a minimum 4% pay raise for all city employees plus a longevity of pay except for the Mayor and City Clerk who were not awarded with these salary increases.

“This worked out to be a fabulous budget because it was collective from each alderman,” expressed Pass Christian Mayor Jimmy Rafferty.  “The Pass is growing and we built a longevity pay system along with investing in equipment for our public safety and projecting an increase of 8.5% in revenue.”

The new compensation program consists of the following hourly pay adjustment for lower-level employees as recommended by Rafferty and a 4% minimum increase for all employees as suggested from Alderman-at-Large Kenny Torgeson.

“I want to say thank you to Alderman Torgeson,” stated Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball, in his first term.  “He navigated the board through some dark moments.”

In Kimball and Pickich recommendation, the employees who have served the city for at least 10 years or more will receive $2000 in additional pay while 5 years would receive $1500 and 1 year or more would receive $1000 in compensation.  The board voted unanimously to delay a new position for fire inspector until January and saving $25,000.

“I want to say thank you to Alderman Victor Pickich for working hard with me to come up with a successful plan for this budget,” said Kimball.  “Here is a man with a newborn salvaging his time for the city and the residents.”

In more actions, the board voted unanimously to approve the new millage set by the city administration.  The city millage is set to 44.85 from the General Revenue Fund, which is the same as the prior year.  For the Pass Christian School District, the total was reduced by more than 1.5 mils.  

After calculating the school maintenance, bond, interest, special bond, and collection cost, the total millage came out to 104.96 that was less than 106.5.  The reason for the importance is the less millage to the local school district, and reduces taxes in general.

While she did not vote to approve the final budget, Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot  emphasized the safety of our firefighters and got the Board to approve all 10 air packs that were requested.  In her dissent vote, the reason was not because of the proposal but because changes were made at the final vote. 

However, Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman expressed the funds for these items could wait if delayed the acquisitions until later in the year.  The Board followed Sparkman’s suggestion and approved the FY2023 Budget.

“There was no mention of salary increases for an administration official in the agenda,” conveyed Alderwoman Charlot.  “You can’t change an agenda at a special called meeting for a change like this that will affect everyone.”

The multiple budget workshops came to work out for the city, even though tension and direction of pay was chosen differently than anticipation.  

With the elimination of suggested performance pay, no raises in the legislative or executive branch with one exception and the positive cash flow was just over $80,000 left for a balanced budget.