by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – or

Thursday, September 7, 2023 the Pass Christian Board of Alderman approved a resolution to adopt the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Budget on a 4-1 vote, which will begin October 1, 2023. Additionally, the board voted unanimously to approve the resolution fixing and levying the ad valorem taxes on taxable property for the fiscal year.

Along with the budget approval, the city board voted 4-1 to adopt an ordinance increasing all zoning, building permit, and other fees in the Community Development Office by eight percent effective October 1, 2023 to round up each fee to the nearest dollar amount. This fee structure has not increased since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the percentage used will represent half the cost of inflation based on the last adjustment.

The total budget for the city of Pass Christian last year was $7,535,087 while the proposal for this year is $8,169,850. After revenue, expenses, capital improvement budget, the operating funds, capital expenditures from the utility fund and the projected surplus, the total expenditures will be $8,711,916.

The mils were virtually the same as last year at 104.96, which includes the city at 48.74 and the Pass Christian School District listed at 104.96. According to City Clerk Ron Duckworth, there was no increase for either.

A stagnant 5% employee pay raise and competitive salary boost for the police department depending on experience were mentioned during the report.

However, five new positions were added within the budget for four departments: 1) New Police Officer 2) New Fire Inspector 3) New Accountant 4) Technician & Inspector for the Building Code Department.

With nearly all of the board coming to a consensus, Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball dissented, mainly due to lack of information.

“I’m really happy for the employees and that’s what we all fought for from the beginning,” said Kimball when discussing why he voted against the budget resolution. “Let’s get down to brass tacks, at that inflation rate as I was on the phone with the Bureau of Labor Statistics with the rate proposed. What we’re trying to do is catch up with the inflation rate and punish the citizens and they have already paid this in their taxes.”

In the final numbers of the resolution, there were no tax increases but there were significant increases for the recreational department receiving $106,600 and the technology department budgeting $118,200. Duckworth stated $80,000 would be going to create new Pickleball Courts for the recreation department and the computer server would be moved to the Police Department on Demourelle Street to avoid shutdowns with the Technology Department.

Pass Christian City Planner Derek Duckworth officially resigned this week and the Code Enforcement Department will begin to advertise for the vacant position.

Photo by Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP.