Holloway: City residents deserve fair return on county tax dollars

Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, noting that almost three quarters of the county’s property taxes come from residents of Biloxi and Gulfport, said Thursday that the two cities should work to make sure city residents are getting a fair return on those taxes.

The mayor, speaking to the Gulfport Rotary club at the Great Southern Club, also noted that the latest census figures show that 81 percent of the 189,000 residents of Harrison County live in one of the county’s five cities.

“I’m not here today to say whether we are or are not getting our fair share from the county,” Holloway said. “What I am saying is that this is something we need to pay close attention to, particularly in these times when the size of cities in this county is growing and the size of the unincorporated areas in shrinking.”

In past several years, Biloxi and Gulfport have annexed large unincorporated areas of the county, where residents now pay city and county taxes.

Holloway said that county figures show that 7 of 10 dollars collected in county property taxes come from residents of Biloxi and Gulfport.

During his speech, the mayor noted that residents of Biloxi now pay more in county taxes than they do in city taxes.

Holloway also said that District 5 Supervisor Connie Rockco is working with the city on the Popp’s Ferry causeway park; Supervisor Bobby Eleuterius has funded U.S. 90 beautification efforts in Biloxi; and the Board of Supervisors is participating in the city’s $35 million traffic improvement project involving road work at Popp’s Ferry, Bayview and Caillavet.

But audience members interrupted Holloway with applause when he said, “We do not want to get in a case where Biloxi and Gulfport are subsidizing operations in smaller cities and in the unincorporated areas of the county – while depriving our own citizens.”

He said he thought the majority of the tax revenue should be used where it would benefit the most citizens – whether they live in the cities or in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Said Holloway: “Ken Combs is mayor of Gulfport, and A.J. Holloway is mayor of Biloxi. But we are both – in fact, we are ALL – citizens and taxpayers of Harrison County.”