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Council approves funding for support of County Economic Development

After tabling a request during their last meeting to enter into an agreement to pay $4,000.00 for the next 21 months to the Pearl River County Economic Development office, the council addressed the decision again during Tuesday’s meeting.

Pearl River County recently hired Blaine LaFontaine as the Director of Economic Development for the county and the council had discussed a monthly appropriation to fund the activities of the Pearl River County Economic Development.Councilman Larry Breland, who was at the previous meeting and heard a presentation from LaFontaine, said he didn’t have all the information he wanted to make a decision.

Breland began a serious of statements, some questions, about what LaFontaine’s salary was, what percentage the funding from Picayune was in comparison to the city of Poplarville, and said he wanted “all his information in our packet so we could look at it.”Breland asked City Clerk Amber Hinton if the money was in place to pay this request and she confirmed it was.

Councilman Wayne Gouguet reminded Breland of the presentation from LaFontaine two weeks and that everyone had a chance to ask questions while LaFontaine was present. Gouguet added that this item was put on the agenda Friday which again allowed time for questions.

“Here we are on Tuesday night, you are trying to stall it (to wait) another two weeks. We all knew this was coming two weeks ago,” Gouguet said in addressing Breland’s tactics.

Breland said he wanted to be fiscally accountable with the money and did not want to give the money as per the request without something in writing. He asked if he could get information put in the council members’ packet for the next meeting. Pinero then asked the council what it would like to do and Gouguet along with council member Tammy Valente both stated they wanted to vote. Valente said they have been talking about this for a long time.

Gouguet reminded the council members of where the money will come from in regards to the city’s budget.“This money will come from the economic development fund. We can’t use that money for anything else,” Gouguet stated.

“If we don’t create jobs in this county and this city, we are never going to see the tax base increase and we’re never going to see those jobs to allow people to stay here and get jobs in this community. This is an opportunity. This guy (LaFontaine) is qualified, everybody is excited about it, and if don’t’ support if financially, it’s an opportunity we are going to miss,” Gouguet added.

“We’ve been sitting here on this council for 10 years and we’ve done absolutely nothing. We spend $10,000 on retail strategies, which in hindsight, we are all looking back saying it was a bad idea. I really believe we’ve got to spend this money to try to move the city and the county forward.”

Breland then changed directions and said he felt all the council members should have the same information to review because he felt Valente and Gouguet had more information than him.

Valente told Breland she took the initiative to do her “homework” on her own to get up to speed to make this decision. Breland later stated that he, like the other council members, had received a phone call (message) from LaFontaine, but he hadn’t had time to call him back.

The council finally voted on the request and the motion passed to fund the request with Gouguet, Valente, Jan Miller-Stephens, and Mayor Pinero voting in favor with Breland and Bogan-Bumpers voting against.



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