As expected, city gets big electric bill for big new building

The city has received the first electric bill for its large new civic center and public library, and, as expected, it’s a large new bill.

The electric bill, which covers one month of service for the 45,000-square-foot civic center and adjoining 22,000-square-foot library: $15,817.92.

“This is about what we had expected,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “During the design phase, we knew what we wanted and what the community had asked for, and at the same time, we were speaking to the architect and Mississippi Power Co. about what we could expect in the way of utilities.

“We’ve budgeted accordingly, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to reduce the cost,” Holloway said. “This is good timing, too, since we’re working with the City Council on the budget for the new fiscal year.”

Holloway said the electric bill for the Biloxi Visitors Center, which is scheduled to open Aug. 8, is expected to be between $5,000 and $8,000 a month.

Previously, the city’s largest monthly electric bill was for the 66,000-square-foot Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center. The bill ranged from $9.600 to $11,000 a month, depending on the time of year. The weather, such as this summer’s weeks-long drought, can also be a huge factor: The bill for June was $13,455, and the bill for May was $14,300.

“One of the things that we’ve said all along is that these new buildings are not your typical municipal buildings, not for Biloxi or any city,” the mayor said. “We have ceilings as high as 30 feet in each building. We have state-of-the-art electronics in both facilities. In some respects, that will save us money, and in others, like the visitors center having numerous flat-screen TVs and a small theater, the electronics are not going to save us money.”

Collectively, the visitors center and civic center-library represent a $30 million investment, funded primarily through federal money and insurance proceeds from destroyed city facilities that included the Dantlzer, Foretich and Brielmier houses; the downtown library; and O’Hanlon Gym.

The city expects to offset some of the utility expenses by renting the facilities for special events.

“We’re received very favorable comments from the Biloxi Bay Chamber’s business expo last week,” Holloway said. “The chamber was impressed with the functionality of the building, and they were able to save money by being able to serve their own food and drinks. More and more groups are going to take advantage of both the civic and visitors centers for special events.”

News and notes

Library reviews: The new Biloxi Public Library formally opened its doors today, and visitors throughout the day have all been saying the same thing. To find out what, click here.

Eye on Biloxi: The CBS “Early Show,” with a nationwide audience of 2.1 million, is scheduled to air a segment about development in Biloxi on Tuesday morning. The program begins at 7 a.m. and can be seen locally on WKRG-TV 5. The Biloxi story will feature a live interview with Gov. Haley Barbour, and taped interviews with Mayor A.J. Holloway, city Community Development Director Jerry Creel and others. Topic of the segment can be traced to Associated Press and Sun Herald stories that began with a Bmail back in May. To read it,
click here.

Council meeting: Reminder, the Biloxi City Council meets Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. To see the agenda for the meeting, click here.