Oil things aside, tax revenues steady over past couple months

Sales tax revenue has increased the past two months over the same months from last year, and gaming revenue taxes are holding their own, Mayor A.J. Holloway said this morning, but Biloxi and other cities along the Gulf Coast face a whole new level of uncertainty with fallout from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and continuing leak.

Holloway, speaking to a Biloxi Chamber of Commerce audience at Edgewater Mall, said the city’s sale tax revenue in May was two-and-a-half percent over May of last year, and April was nine-and-a-quarter percent over April of last year.

Gaming revenue is holding steady, too, said the mayor, adding: “I’ll take the good news. Have we hit bottom? That’s to be seen.

“We face a whole new level of uncertainty with this oil spill,” he declared. “So far it’s been the Flying Dutchman of catastrophes, destined to sail the seas, and signaling doom for any area it comes near.”

The impact that the month-old leak has had on sales or gaming taxes won’t be definitively gauged for a couple more weeks.

Meantime, the mayor said the city has filed an application with the state for reimbursement of up to $3 million for any expenses related to preparation or cleanup of any oil that makes its way to the shores of the Biloxi peninsula. Said the mayor: “The federal government keeps saying that this spill and any clean up are BP’s responsibility, but I don’t want the boom to be lowered on us at the last minute. We’re looking to do the things that we think need to be done to protect our shoreline, and we don’t think it’s an expense that the taxpayers of Biloxi should have to pay.”

During his remarks at the chamber’s Breakfast With the Mayor gathering Holloway updated progress on the city’s visitors center, downtown library and civic center, and economic development initiatives. He also encouraged residents to attend the re-dedication of the Magnolia Hotel, part of historic presercation month, and he reminded audience members of the many attributes of Edgewater Mall.

“Where else can you find a million square feet of retail under one roof in a climate controlled environment?” he asked. “100 specialty shops? A half-dozen restaurants? Five — yes, five — anchor stores: Sears, JC Penney, Dillards, Belk and a 14,000-square-foot Books-a-Million — a new state-of-the-art Sears Automotive Center, and, coming up on the horizon: a new Walmart.

“It’s all here at one location. People overlook this mall. It’s an economic engine, and it’s going to be even bigger and better in the near future. I say congratulations to manager Terry Powell and all the merchants here at Edgewater Mall.”

See the photos: To peruse more than three dozen photos from this morning’s gathering at Edgewater Mall,

click here.