City Clerk and Finance

Mary Ann Hess

City Clerk

Email Me!

Meet Your City Clerk: Mary Ann Hess


Laurel City Clerk Mary Ann Hess has always had a passion for public service and learning. As the daughter of an educator, she really couldn’t help it.  Her father was a physics teacher at Jones College for 33 years and her mother worked in the registrar’s office. “I grew up on campus, literally,” she explained. “I have fond memories of playing in the physics lab and the old administration building.”

Her grandmother served as a dorm mother on campus for a time and she also has an aunt who was a senior English teacher.

It seemed destined that Hess would follow her family into education. When she first arrived at Jones College as a student, she thought that she might have become a guidance counselor. “I am good at listening and I have always liked helping people,” she explained.

However, she enjoyed her business classes so much, that she majored in Management with an emphasis in HR Management. She transferred from Jones to Ole Miss where she completed her undergraduate degree and a Master’s in Business Administration.

Her first job was as a performance auditor in the Department of Finance and Administration for the state of Tennessee.

She lived and worked in Nashville for the next four and half years before accepting a position in Greenville as the Assistant City Clerk. She was soon promoted to City Clerk/Finance Director. At the time, Greenville was the third-largest city in the state.

In February 2000, she discovered that her hometown of Laurel was looking for a City Clerk. She applied, got the job, and has been working at City Hall ever since.

As City Clerk, Hess is responsible for working with county officials and election commissioners to ensure that city elections are held in compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Her office also oversees the administration of privilege licenses. Additionally, she leads the city’s finance department where she prepares and oversees the city’s nearly 73 million dollar annual budget. She is responsible for all city accounting except for payroll.

Her department is currently working to digitize the city’s old financial records. “We’ve made a lot of progress on this,” she said. The department follows guidelines and a record retention schedule provided by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Digitizing the records will make them easier to store and easier to find in the future.

In addition to completing the digitization project, she would also like to implement a five-year capital plan for the city. A capital plan is a type of planning and budgeting tool that allows city departments to make requests for capital items and projects ahead of time. For example, if a police department knows that they will need a new car in the next few years, they can request to have the purchase built into the capital plan. Then they will know that on year three of the capital plan, they will be able to purchase the new police car. This type of planning is common among municipalities and offers a way to be proactive in planning each budget year.

When she is not overseeing the city’s finances and elections, she enjoys conducting genealogical research and spending time with her adopted Jack Russell terrier mix, Jack.

Staff Members

Cindy Pitts

Chief Deputy Clerk and Special Events Coordinator
Office: 601-428-6404

Kristal Jones

Deputy Clerk and City Accountant
Office: 601-428-6434

Lauren Stewart

Deputy Clerk and Accounts Payable Specialist
Office: 601-428-6432

Ann Brown

City Clerk
Office: 601-428-6404

Members of the City Clerk and Finance department serve the city in a variety of ways including:

  • The City Clerk’s office is the official repository for all City government documents and records and is the custodian of the City seal.
  • Preparing and administering a $73 million budget
  • Conducting municipal elections
  • Overseeing city purchasing
  • Overseeing accounts receivable
  • Overseeing accounts payable
  • Maintaining the city’s inventory
  • Assisting with privilege licenses
  • Reviewing and preparing contracts and agreements within the shortest time frame to ensure contract compliance without vendor inconvenience
  • Participating in litigation and municipal violation prosecution
  • Advising on statutory matters and handling litigation
  • Appearing in State and Federal court on behalf of the City
  • Bringing about preventative approaches to limiting risk
  • Participating in and presenting continuing legal updates to staff members
  • Participating in employment and administrative matters
  • And, responding to citizen requests and inquiries
The City of Laurel, established as a lumber town in 1882, is conveniently situated approximately two hours from larger destination cities such as Jackson, Biloxi, New Orleans, and Mobile. In recent years, the city has become a destination all its own thanks, in part, to its starring role in HGTV’s popular “Hometown” series. As Laurel, and interest in it, continues to grow, we are committed to providing the resources necessary to help all of our residents and businesses reach their full potential.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram Skip to content