Post-storm issues on council agenda

 The Biloxi City Council will consider two Hurricane Nate-related issues on Tuesday.

Under a plan proposed by Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, permit fees would be waived for those seeking to make repairs to owner-occupied dwellings, as was done after Hurricane Katrina. A proposal by Councilmember Robert L. Deming III would take it a step further: waiving fees for permits to repair commercial structures.

The idea of waiving fees for residential work is similar to a plan the city used after Hurricane Katrina, which saved homeowners anywhere from $25 to $250 or more. The waiving of resident permits cost the city about $120,000 in lost revenue in the three years after Katrina, based on $66 million in permits issued for residential storm repairs and $37 million in permits issued for rebuilds.

Waiving fees for commercial permits, on the other hand, would cost the city substantially more, according to Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard, because commercial permits typically have more valuation. 

And why are permits required to begin with? “Permits protect the property owner and the city,” Leonard said. “Our inspectors ensure that the work is done to the specifications and to meet life safety codes. The cost of the permit, which is based on the construction valuation, covers the cost of the required inspections.”
See the complete agenda and supporting documents


Gilich seeks OK for library, Post Office plans

The city’s Finance Division, which has been housed since Hurricane Katrina in the Old Biloxi Public  Library across from the Half Shell Restaurant on Lameuse Street, will be moving to the third floor of the U.S. Post Office on Main Street under a plan Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich is asking the City Council to approve Tuesday.

If approved, the agreement would allow the city to move forward with a lease the council approved last month to allow the Le Beignet shop and café to move to the second floor of the library, with plans for a steakhouse on the bottom floor of the historic structure. The plan will also have start-up costs: a sprinkler system to be installed at the library and work stations for the Post Office space.

Gilich has wanted to see the Old Biloxi Public Library have a more public use and return to the tax rolls since he became mayor two years ago. The plan, if approved, would be for the Finance Division to move to the Post Office for the first of the month and the beignet shop to begin operating in the library in mid-November.

“What we’re doing is creating a better use for the Old Biloxi Public Library, so the public can enjoy it, and creating about two dozen private-sector jobs in the process,” the mayor said. “As far as the two leases, the city will be leasing the old library for the restaurants at the appraised market value of about $20 a square foot, while we’ll be paying about $9 a square foot over at the Post Office.”
See photos of the Old Biloxi Public Library
See the approved lease for the old Biloxi Public Library
See the proposed lease with U.S. Postal Service


City seeks to bring holidays in line with state statute

The Gilich administration is proposing the city reduce its number of municipal holidays to 10 a year from the current lineup of 12, bringing the city in line with state statute.

The measure is one of more than two dozen issues on the council agenda for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

The proposed amendment to the ordinance on city holidays, which would be voted on at a subsequent council meeting, would eliminate the Friday after Thanksgiving, typically referred to as “Black Friday” in Christmas shopping circles, and it would remove Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, from the lineup of city holidays.

A typical city holiday, which generates holiday or overtime pay primarily in the Police and Fire departments, costs taxpayers about $125,000  a day.

The proposed ordinance also notes that the City Council would have the right to add any one-time discretionary holidays the governor may decree during the year. Governors have occasionally granted the authority for local leaders to add a one-time holiday when an existing holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, creating an extended weekend. 

The remaining holidays would be:

– New Year’s Day

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

– Mardi Gras Day

– Memorial Day

– Fourth of July

– Labor Day

– Good Friday

– Veterans Day

– Thanksgiving Day

– Christmas Day
See the proposed amendment to the city holiday ordinance