Budget: More gaming money, more cops, no new taxes

The city expects to see a million dollars in new revenue from sports betting in the coming fiscal year, and plans are to hire an additional six police officers, with no increase in the city property tax rate.

Those are some of the announcements that have come from a series of workshops the Gilich Administration and City Council have conducted over the past couple of weeks. The mayor and council are working to craft a budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins Oct. 1.

The next public meeting will be Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., which prefaces the 1:30 p.m. regularly scheduled council meeting.  Plans for the morning session are to discuss spending for the Public Works and Engineering departments and operations in the city’s Water and Port division funds.

Follow-up sessions will involve funding for public libraries and public transit, museums and other discretionary spending.

Deciding on a revenue figure – which is $57 million this coming year – was first priority, said Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard.

“We looked at the past and current budgets,” Leonard said. “Not only did we look at how the current budget is rolling out, 10 months in the 12-month fiscal year, but we looked at the audited number from previous years, going back three or four years, at how revenue came in.

“Our revenue number is slightly less than this year, but a very conservative, safe and prudent number.

“In fact, the only revenue stream that we’re projecting to be higher this coming year is gaming. We are projecting in the area of a million dollars in additional income, to take us from $17.5 million to $18.5 million, and if you consider that it’s a million dollars over 12 months, that’s not really a giant increase in revenue.

“But we think everything in sports betting points to an extra million, and as a result the mayor is not projecting any property tax increase this year.”

Leonard said the city workforce – 647 employees – is expected to increase to 654, “almost entirely for additional police officers on the street.”

The budget also includes a slight increase in the city water rates – impacting only those who use 5,000 gallons or more a month – and a two-percent increase in the city’s payment towards employee retirement accounts. Said Leonard: “Our city employees are going to get more expensive, even though there is no plan for an employee pay raise.”
See the agendas for Tuesday meetings
See city financial information
Podcast:  CAO Leonard discusses city budget


News & notes: Millions in permits, Shuckers, dance, erratum

$20 million in permits: Last week, the Community Development Department issued an astounding $20.5 million in permits. Included in the number were The Blake, an assisted-living facility on Popp’s Ferry Road, $15.5 million; and Fire Station No. 7 at Cedar-Popp’s, $4.1 million.  To see other departmental reports covering last week, click here. 

Play ball:  The Biloxi Shuckers take on the Pensacola Wahoo, Game 2 in a five-game series, this evening at MGM Park. It is also Doggone Monday, where fans can buy a $7 berm ticket and bring their dog to the game.  To see more about the Biloxi Shuckers, including ticket information, click here.

Back-to-school party:  The Parks & Recreation Department will hold its annual Special Needs Back-to-School Hoorah Dance on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Donal M. Snyder Sr. Community Center. The free affair is open to all ages with physical and mental disabilities.  To view the flyer, click here

Erratum: There are actually 74 Mississipppians who remain missing from the Korean War. A Bmail item last week about Biloxi serviceman Robert Gaude Jr. included an incorrect number. To see the complete list, click here. By the way,  local historian Jane Shambra has located a photo of the serviceman, from his 1951 Georgia Tech yearbook. To see that photo, now included in an online Facebook gallery, click here.