At a Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Mayor Holloway told the membership that Biloxi has been able to bring spending more in line with revenue for the first time in several years and “although the financial outlook is stable, the city must remain vigilant and continue cost-cutting measures.”
Biloxi’s general fund, which once had revenues of more than $40 million, has been whittled down to $10 million by years of deficit budgeting. However, cost-cutting measures that have included a hiring-freeze, employee furloughs and a decrease in employee benefits have helped bring the city’s budget closer into balance, relieving pressure off the general fund.
Holloway told his audience that as of June 01, the city had revenues of $37 million and expenses of $35 million.
“Increases in claims against the city’s employee insurance fund could lead to employees seeing an increase in the cost of health insurance for their families,” said Holloway. The city provides free insurance for employees, but last year required employees to begin paying a portion of cost for family coverage.
Holloway also said he understood the complaints that some residents have about the increase in monthly water bills. A drought is causing residents to use more water which is more expensive this summer because of debt service payments to the Harrison County Utility Authority.
Another issue entering as a factor is that an increased usage and increased surcharge occurred at the same time when the city could no longer afford to subsidize the water department. The sunsidy kept the city’s water rates artificially low for years.
“Some people wonder why the bills in Biloxi went up so much, and you don’t hear about bills going up in other cities. The answer is simple. The bills in the other cities were already high. In fact, we are still lower than most of them. We have some of the lowest rates in the entire state.” said Holloway.
More meeting news is available on-line.
- Read the mayor’s speaking points from the meeting, click here.
- See photos from the gathering, click here.
- Compare water, sewer and garbage rates for Coastal cities, click here.
- Water quality reports should be arriving in mailboxes in the next few days, but you can see the consumer confidence report here on-line, click here.
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This column was prepared for publication by Hank Richards, Examiner writer for Huntsville, Alexandria, the British Petroleum Recovery Program and the Gulport/Biloxi/Gulcoast restoraton region.
To report a breaking story or to write a letter to the editor for publication, contact Hank at (256) 417-6084 or send at email to [email protected] at his website www.pronlinenews.com