Keeping the city operational
The Department of Administration is responsible for purchasing, finance, information systems, and contracts/capital project management. It is led by Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols and employs 22 people.
“I’m responsible for the operation of the city,” Nichols said. “All of the department heads report to me.”
“The mayor sets the policy, and I carry it out,” he added, further explaining his role.
The department is also responsible for overseeing $170 million of Federal Emergency Management Agency projects along with the accounting office. Everything purchased for the city passes through administration, as well. Human resources is another responsibility of the department, as is the city cemetery.
Nichols, along with Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich spends a lot of time meeting with developers in order to learn about potential development ideas and determine if they would be a good fit for Biloxi.
Much of Nichols’ time is devoted to litigation matters, as well. In conjunction with City Attorney Gerald Blessey, he reviews cases made against the city to determine the best course of action for the city to take.
“People love to sue cities and government,” Nichols said. “We spend a lot of time defending ourself and trying to settle legal issues.”
Finding adequate revenue to operate the city is a major challenge facing the department. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the recession led to a major loss of revenue. This has made it a challenge for the city to maintain the same level of service as before the deficit. The city is finally beginning to recover though.
Of all the facets of his department, Nichols is most grateful for the opportunity to help people solve problems.
“You can’t solve all the problems, but a lot of the problems that come through here you’re able to help people with,” he said.
The department is located on the second floor of City Hall and can be contacted at 228-435-6314.
–Charlie Benton, Public Affairs Intern, 7/2015