Council withdraws vote to re-consider annexation

The Biloxi City Council, after hearing a status report on city services in Woolmarket and plans for more than $160 million in water and sewer improvements, withdrew plans to re-consider an August vote to expand the city’s northeastern boundaries by 12.2 square miles.

In fact, the council voted to allow attorneys to apply to the state Public Service Commission to extend water and sewer plans for a larger part of the proposed 12.2-square mile area that would become part of the city. The vote was 4-2, with Councilmembers David Fayard and Mike Fitzpatrick voting against, and Councilman Charles T. Harrison absent for the vote.

The council’s day of meetings on annexation past and present began with a morning meeting where Mayor A.J. Holloway briefed councilmembers on city progress in the Woolmarket community, which became part of Biloxi in mid-1999.

Holloway’s report, which covered work in all city departments, showed that Woolmarket residents had paid an average of $930,000 in city property taxes each year while the city spent an average of $4.75 million a year on services in Woolmarket.

Holloway was hoping to convince councilmembers that Biloxi was indeed making progress in Woolmarket, and that the city should continue plans to grow its northeastern boundaries by another 12.2 miles.

“This issue about growing the size of Biloxi is not about A.J. Holloway and the present members of the City Council,” Holloway told councilmembers. “It’s about the future. It’s about whether the Biloxi of the future will be boxed in and stagnate, or whether we’ll be a city that offers opportunity for growth.”

After Holloway’s presentation, City Engineer Damon Torricelli outlined ongoing plans to continue water and sewer work in the Woolmarket area.

In all, the city has more than $80 million in water and sewer improvements scheduled for Woolmarket. But the unanswered question, Holloway admitted, is a definite timetable for the work.

“That’s the $61 million question,” he said, referring to the amount of federal funding that has been allocated for the water and sewer work. “What I can say is that we have engineering work underway on these projects. We’ve made recommendations to the Harrison County Utility District for the construction managers, but until the money makes its way to the utility district, it would be difficult to put a timeline on it.”

Online coverage

—To read the mayor’s comments to the councilmembers about the importance of the pending annexation case, click here.

—To see the mayor’s Power Point presentation about the status of work in Woolmarket, click here.