City amplifies argument for return of casino rent money

The City of Biloxi is intensifying its efforts to recoup more than $600,000 from the state and has filed documents in Harrison County Chancery Court that show the actions in transferring the funds were unconstitutional and ignored rules of the state House and Senate.

Members of the Biloxi City Council were briefed on the issue during their City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

At issue is $606,000 in rent money that the Golden Nugget Casino Resort paid into a state holding fund. The money, based on a 2002 agreement, is supposed to be shared by the city, Institutions of Higher Learning, and the Secretary of State. But the state Legislature in 2016 transferred the city’s money into the state general fund, and, after being notified, failed to return the money during the legislative session that ended in March 2017.

In April, shortly after the end of the session, the city filed a motion in Harrison County Chancery Court asking that the 2002 agreement be enforced, and after again unsuccessfully pleading weeks ago with Coast legislators to help resolve the case, opted on Friday to file a supplemental measure with the court that shows the Legislature violated the state Constitution and its own rules in transferring the money in the closing days of the 2016 session.

The document filed by the city last week was supported by 13 exhibits, including letters from the Secretary of State’s office to the governor and from committee chairs to the Secretary of State. Also included were copies of a bill passed by a conference committee that was later changed to transfer the Biloxi funds before the bill was sent to the governor for his signature.

The last-minute change – which was requested by an unknown person, the city says in its latest court filing – violated the state constitution, which says appropriation bills cannot be passed within five days of the close of the session. The action, the city also says, violated House and Senate rules by making substantive changes to a bill after it was agreed upon by a legislative conference committee.
See the city’s court filing and supporting documents


News and notes

We are Shuckers: In the beginning, there was talk of the Biloxi Mullets, or Biloxi Schooners or even Biloxi Beacons. Then, the name Biloxi Shuckers was announced, which, some say, was a nod to the working-class Milwaukee sports monikers, Packers and Brewers. Now comes word that Cut4, a blog that celebrates the offbeat of Major League Baseball, has named the Shuckers team name as one of the best in Minor League Baseball.  To read the entire Top 10, click here.

Remember your history: The city’s award-winning Presentation in May series kicks off Thursday evening with a walking tour of historic Howard Avenue. You’ll find stops at well-known treasures of Biloxi’s past. To read a preview, click here.

Summer movie:  The Parks and Recreation Department begins hosting its Summer Movie Series with the showing of Moana on Friday beginning at dusk on the Biloxi Town Green.  Admission is a can or bag of cat or dog food for the Humane Society of South Mississippi.  Games and food will also be part of the event.  To see the flyer, click here