City Hall Report: Aug. 18 City Council Meeting

East Hancock Library Users, Contact Your Councilmen

Money for library books, DVDs, and books on CDs was a major topic at last night’s city council meeting.  Executive Director Courtney Thomas of the Hancock Library System asked the city to provide $10,000 for books and materials to be housed in the East Hancock Branch here at Diamondhead.  She explained that the county provides $271,977 of East Hancock’s budget, all of which is consumed by operational costs with nothing left over for purchasing materials or for the kinds of extra services available in Bay St. Louis and Waveland.

Thomas was questioned intensively by the councilmen, some of whom seemed to resent that the city was being asked to chip in.  Councilman Rech asked how much is funded by the county.  Thomas explained that the county provides 1.2745 mils plus $84,000 in gaming funding, all of which is spread as needed equally across the five branches.  Funding has been cut across the board the last two years.  The East Hancock branch, she pointed out, was built with HUD money, a CDBG grant, but it did not provide for materials. 

Asked by Councilman Knobloch why Harrison County has over 19,000 residents per library compared to Hancock with around 9,000, she explained that library trustees had recommended against building a fifth county library because five branches were more than was needed for the county’s population size.  Nevertheless, it was built, now it is here, and it is used, according to a survey, almost entirely by Diamondhead residents, many of whom attended last night wearing blue shirts with library logos to show their support.  As she said, she was handed a lemon and wants to make lemonade for the benefit of Diamondhead.

Councilman Knobloch also asked why Bay St. Louis and Waveland want to renege on their commitment to help fund their branches.  Thomas replied that, quite honestly, both are unhappy that they contribute while Diamondhead does not.  The extra funding provided by the incorporated cities is used exclusively for services and materials housed at their branches, though all materials circulate throughout the system upon request.  Kiln and Pearlington branches along with East Hancock are funded solely by the county, she stated.

Councilman Lafontaine supported the director’s request, noting that the city should fund the $10,000.  Councilman Lopez, who tried to attend the meeting via speakerphone, had to give up when he could neither hear nor be heard but he seemed to have some strong reservations about the funding from what could be heard.

The council will vote on the funding at their next regular meeting on September 1.

Lafontaine to Step Down Effective Sept. 1

Ward 2 Councilman Blaine Lafontaine has resigned effective Sept. 1 to start preparing for his new post as District 3 Supervisor.  He spoke of his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the city the past two years and to serve the county beginning in January, and expressed his belief in a great future for the city.  Well-wishers on the council and in the audience gave him a standing ovation.

City manager Clovis Reed assured the mayor and council that a crew was in place to handle the upcoming special election and that all would go smoothly.  Julie Boudreaux was sworn in as Municipal Election Commissioner to replace former Commissioner Louis Fuchs who has moved away.

Under state statutes, the council must adopt an order at the next regular meeting (or in a special meeting) after the vacancy occurs.  The election must be held not less than 30 or more than 45 days after the date on which they adopt the order.  Candidates must reside in Ward 2 and qualify by 5 pm at least 20 days before the election by obtaining at least 50 signatures of qualified electors on their petition.

Dog Park Supporters, Contact Your Councilmen and POA Directors

Diamondhead resident Tammy Stagg, who is raising the money and braving the maze of POA and city requirements to establish a dog park for Diamondhead solely by private funding at no expense to either government, asked the council why it was taking so long to get a permit for the dog park fence.

According to what unfolded, Stagg thought the permit had been applied for by the POA’s Darrell Kinchen, but City Manager Reed and Building Official Ron Jones, who have been busy for awhile apparently studying the question of chain link fencing, said that no permit application has occurred.

Lafontaine and Knobloch noted that a conditional use permit is required, the application has not been filed, and though generally supportive, they know nothing of the plans and want to know a lot more.  Since a conditional use permit is required, the project will also require a public hearing.

The POA passed the motion on February 25 this year to allow use of POA property for the park subject to city permits.  Nearly six months later, the matter has not yet come before the council.  POA officials say the city is holding things up, the city says the POA has not applied for the  permit.  This is not good governance at work.

[Note:  There was an odd mention of restrooms at the dog park by Reed.  That’s absurd if it’s truly under consideration.  An hour of watching pets play — or worse, having to constantly throw things to them, — is all any sane person can take, and he or she heads home by then.  Restroom facilities would be a completely wasted expense leading only to vandalism.]

FY16 City Budget

The public hearing on the city’s budget is set for Wednesday, August 26, at 6 pm.  The date for budget adoption is Tuesday, September 8 at 4 pm.


City contact info: 

Mayor: Tommy E. Schafer, IV  493-3363  mayor@diamondhead.ms.gov

Council Members:

At Large  Ernie Knobloch  255-0546  eknobloch@diamondhead.ms.gov

Ward 1  Joe Lopez  424-5555  jlopez@diamondhead.ms.gov

Ward 2  (until Sept. 1)  Blaine Lafontaine  493-8283  blafontaine@diamondhead.ms.gov

Ward 3  Thomas A. Sislow  222-5376  tsislow@diamondhead.ms.gov

Ward 4  Ron Rech  342-2061  rrech@diamondhead.ms.gov

POA:

John Fletcher, President  255-8491  jnothpilot@aol.com

Jerry Weber, Vice President  255-5448  jeweber11@gmail.com

Michael Schaefer, Treasurer  216-3919  poatreasurer62014@gmail.com

Sharon McCulley, Secretary  383-6679  dpoasec@gmail.com

Don Crosby  255-5178  Crosby_donald@bellsouth.net

Marshall Kyger  586-6196  mekygs@cableone.net

Kelsey Johnson  734 845-2559  kjohnson@gccds.msstate.edu

Craig Harvey  342-8395  charvey@nvs-inc.com

Paul Montjoy, III  216-4321  pmontjoy@cableone.net

Donald Silcio  985 768-6991  Dsilcio76@yahoo.com

Uwe Seitz  907-4127  designla@cableone.net