Holloway: Positive indicators abound in Biloxi

Encouraging economic news is breaking out all around the city, Mayor A.J. Holloway said, and he believes the trend will usher in a promising summer.

Holloway made the observation after reviewing the latest monthly gaming figures for the Biloxi casino market, which showed a 6 percent increase over January 2010 and was the fourth positive month of the past five months. At the same time, the mayor had just received news that the city’s sales tax revenue for January was 13 percent over January of 2009.

The news came in a week that had its share of milestones:

— The Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant sailed through its city approval process enroute to an appearance before the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

— The owners of Sharkheads, an iconic gift shop on west beach pre-Katrina, received the OK to take part in a new city tax-abatement program designed to foster more small-business development.

— The mayor said he saw significant progress in the construction of the new public library and civic center, at 71,000-square feet the largest municipal facility ever constructed in Biloxi.

— The Biloxi Housing Authority announced plans to construct 75 affordable housing units at a former mobile home park on Pass Road in west Biloxi.

Said Holloway: “These things — the positive economic indicators, the progress on city facilities and the new development — are the things that encourage increased confidence and growth in our community. These are things that investors watch, and these are the things that get people’s attention.”

Meantime, David Staehling, the city’s director of administration, echoed a message he delivered to the City Council on Tuesday: “We’re not out of the woods yet. Revenues appear to be stable, but we need to keep in place the cost-cutting measures that are in the current budget — the employee furloughs, the fees for our sports leagues and such.”

Gaming figures: To see the calendar-month gross gaming revenue figures for the Biloxi market, click here.

Weekend preview: Mardi Gras parades and more

The parade season kicks off this weekend with Mardi Gras parades rolling in Ocean Springs and Orange Grove, along with a Little Rascals parade in Pascagoula.

Elsewhere, you’ll find Gladys Knight entertaining this weekend at the Beau Rivage,
“Babes in Hollywood” at Center Stage, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at the IP, where you’ll also find cage fights and singer-songwriter Sara Evans; and comedian Kathleen Madigan entertains at Hard Rock.

For details on these events and others, click here.

Meantime, over at Edgewater Mall, Capt. Jack Sparrow of filmdom’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise will be featured attraction at Kid’s Day on Saturday. You’ll also find free face painting and a balloon artist. The first 200 youngsters to arrive get a free ticket to a Mississippi Surge hockey game.

Tuesday night meeting to feature Hidden Springs proposal

The Biloxi City Council will hold a rare nighttime meeting on Tuesday to consider public comments on the proposed Hidden Springs development in Woolmarket.

The council is also expected to decide the issue during the 6 p.m. meeting, which takes place at City Hall.

At issue: A number of adjacent property owners worry about the impact that the 411 single-family homes in the proposed development will have on nearby roads and infrastructure in general. They prefer larger lot sizes. The developer, meantime, has reduced the proposal from its orginal 420 lots, and points out that all of the perimeter lots on the east, west and south boundaries being increased in size to fully comply with the existing Residential Estate Restricted, or RER, zoning.

To see the agenda and resolutions for the meeting, click here.

County OKs tax-exemption plan for areas of Biloxi

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors has approved a plan where the county would join the city in offering tax exemptions to new and expanding businesses in identified sections of Biloxi.

Mayor A.J. Holloway appeared before the supervisors on Monday to ask the county to consider the idea. Under the plans, city and county property taxes, save for school taxes, could be abated for as many as seven years. Each business would have to apply to both the city and county to be a part of the program.

Said Holloway: “It’s primarily designed for small businesses, to help offset the many post-Katrina challenges they face in rebuilding, starting up or expanding. I’m glad the county has approved this in Biloxi.”

To see a map of the approved districts in Biloxi and the city ordinance approving the plan, click here.

News and notes

SRO presentation: The Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce reports that all 650 seats have been sold for the annual State of the City address. The luncheon will be held Monday, Feb. 28 at the Beau Rivage. CableOne will carry the presentation on Tuesday, March 1 at noon, 8 and 11 p.m. on Cable 13 in Biloxi.

Mayoral mother: Iris Holloway, the 91-year-old mother of the mayor, was resting comfortably this morning at Biloxi Regional Medical Center after undergoing surgery to mend a broken hip. Said the mayor: “She’s doing very well, and, I’m sure, will be looking forward to getting back on her feet.”

Traffic update: To see the status of road work in and around the city, click here.