2016 Legislative session: It’s a start, Gilich says

Biloxi had some successes and disappointments in city-driven initiatives in the 2016 Mississippi Legislative session, according to a report given to the Biloxi City Council this afternoon.

“This was a great start,” said Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, who championed a number of issues, including an unprecedented request of $14 million¬†to fund a number of waterfront economic development projects, some of which also were included in the more than $100 million requests for funds from the BP Restore Act.

City lobbyist Scott Levanway of Levanway & Associates briefed the City Council Tuesday on key bills impacting the city.

The state appropriated $5 million of the $150 million BP economic damages money toward work on a new gate at Keesler.

In other measures, $2.5 million was earmarked to incent low-cost airlines in gaming counties; Biloxi is currently identifying entertainment districts to allow so-called go-cup areas; and the Historic Tax Credit program, which helps drive downtown development statewide, was increased from $60 million to $120 million.

Tidelands funds, money derived from leases of state bottomlands, continues to be a focus for Biloxi, Gilich said, especially since Biloxi generates the lion’s share of the fund.

“In the past, Biloxi has received as little as $400,000 in Tidelands funds, a figure that is just a fraction of the $10 million that is sent to the state,” Gilich said. “We received $700,000, which is a bump up, but that money is for Phase I of a $4.5 million west Biloxi marketplace.”

Added the mayor: “We’ll continue to work with our Coast legislative delegation. The issues we’re talking about are not exclusive to Biloxi.¬† They are broad based, good for all of south Mississippi and the state, and we have to continue to make our case.”
See the complete legislative report
See photos from today’s City Council meeting

 

Saenger soon to see repair assessment

The city’s Saenger Theater, which hosts hundreds of events and 100,000 people annually, will soon receive a comprehensive, federally-funded assessment to determine the scope of needed repairs.

‚ÄúWe want to take a comprehensive approach to restoring and repairing the Saenger, which, of course,¬†is going to take comprehensive money,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said. ‚ÄúI have heard the complaints, and I want it fixed just as much as anyone. We’re going to create a plan and then work on finding the money to make it happen.”

Last week, after user complaints, a pest inspector treated the theater and found no infestation of termites.

 

News and notes

Recognizing the Fallen:¬† Several dozen people gathered this morning at the Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center to honor Biloxi officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The ceremony was part of the Biloxi Police Department‚Äôs celebration of Police Week. To see photos from this morning’s ceremony,¬†click here. To see photos from Saturday events, visit the city’s¬† Facebook page.

Day for the Elks: Leaders of Biloxi Elks Lodge 606 were at City Hall this afternoon as the longtime Biloxi group was named the city’s Adult Volunteer Group of the Year. To see photos of the presentation and other images from this afternoon’s City Council meeting, click here.

Fire Academy for Kids: The Biloxi Fire Department is now taking applications for its Fire Academy for Kids.  The free, five-day program, for children ages 7 to 12, will be from 8 a.m. to noon on June 6-10.  The camp will take place at Fire Station No. 1, at 170 Porter Ave., and at the nearby West End Hose Company No. 3 Fire Museum, on Howard Avenue. To see the registration forms, click here.