Biloxi City Council deadlocked on Tisdale getting CAO job

The city is working through its budget process without a chief administrative officer and with no resolution in sight.

A special meeting Tuesday was canceled when it became apparent Councilman Paul Tisdale did not have the votes to get confirmed.

Three City Council members — Felix Gines, Dixie Newman and Robert Deming III — say they don’t think Tisdale is the person for the job. That leaves the council vote deadlocked.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said he isn’t interviewing anyone else for the job, which has been vacant since David Nichols left in July to take a job with the Biloxi School District.

Tisdale is a former Biloxi School District superintendent, but Deming said Tisdale has no municipal experience. The mayor has been on the job for only a year and five council members are in their first term, he said.

“We heavily relied on the expertise of David Nichols,” Deming said. “With everything going on in the city, we don’t need someone learning on the job.”

Tisdale said despite the objections from council members, three of whom ran against him for mayor in the special election that Gilich won, “everybody’s been civil in all of this.

“The mayor and I are still discussing some issues, trying to nail them down,” Tisdale said.

The state attorney general and the Ethics Commission ruled Tisdale can resign from the City Council to take the job, but he can’t be paid for the first year.

“I truly believe that a difficult and important position like CAO of the city should not be a ‘volunteer’ position,” Newman said.

Newman also objects to the expense of a special election that would be needed to fill Tisdale’s seat.

Gines said he believes the confirmation for CAO should be unanimous.

“We should all be aboard, ready to go,” he said.

A first look at Biloxi’s proposed $57.3 million budget Tuesday provided only information on revenues, which are expected to decrease slightly in the next year, and little discussion yet of expenses.

Gilich said nearly 60 percent of the budget goes for employee wages and salaries.

Health insurance is expected to cost at least $1 million more next year, and Sy Easterling of BancorpSouth Insurance Services suggested ways to reduce costs.

The city is self-insured and pays 100 percent of employee health benefits. It costs employees $50 a month for family benefits, or $600 a year, and an additional $50 a month for dental benefits.

The city could save by raising employee contributions for family coverage, increasing the co-payments from the current $15 for a physician and $25 for a specialist or changing to a prescription plan that allows for more generic drugs, Easterling said.

Asked to compare Biloxi’s insurance with that of other cities, Easterling said, “You have, I would venture to say, the best plan on the Coast.”