We hope Mayor Billy Broomfield is serious about putting an end to public corruption. We’re rooting for him and the residents of Moss Point.
Broomfield is putting an end to the free ride some water customers have had over the years. That free ride has added up to a $3.4 million deficit in the city’s Utilities Department.
“This administration would not tolerate misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Broomfield said. “We are going to do everything to make sure people are brought to justice, because it isn’t fair for people who work hard and pay their bills regularly to allow those who decided to beat the system to get away with it. That’s not going to happen here.”
It appears two former employees were gaming the system to mask the fact that some customers weren’t paying their water bills.
City Clerk Stephanie Coleman deserves the credit for unraveling that scheme. And we commend the city for turning the investigation over to the Office of the State Auditor.
But the shenanigans didn’t stop with the water department. Former Police Chief Art McClung and former Court Clerk Supervisor Michelle Hodge were the only two people authorized to spend from the Moss Point Police Benefit Fund, a private account that wasn’t controlled by the city.
The Auditor’s Office is investigating after it was revealed the account — which was supposed to pay for community events such as Night Out Against Crime — was used to pay for purchases at a liquor store, nail salon, restaurants, a beauty supply business, retail shops and department stores.
We hope this marks the final days of the old Moss Point, a secretive place run by officials who liked keeping the taxpayers in the dark.
There is so much potential in Moss Point. For example, the Audubon Center could make it the center of eco-tourism in South Mississippi. The city has a beautiful riverfront. Many wonderful people live there.
But it has had a cloud over it. Secrecy and unresponsive officials allowed that cloud to form.
We hope the mayor and city officials are intent on lifting it.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.