Holloway: We need to keep doing the things we’re doing.

Mayor A.J. Holloway told Biloxians today that the city’s
traffic improvement projects are helping diversify and
grow all sectors of the local economy, and that the city
needs to “keep doing the things we’re doing
to continue our success.”

Holloway, making his 11 th annual State of the City
address to a luncheon crowd of 600 at the Beau Rivage
Resort & Casino, said “those living in Biloxi
today have the rare privilege of being a part of what
will be viewed as one of the most historic periods of
our time.

“In decades to come, our children and grandchildren
will view this era as when our renaissance began – when
Biloxi embarked on the most prosperous and most progressive
period of sustained growth ever seen in the city’s
long history.”

The city’s $28 million traffic improvement program
in the Cedar-Popp’s area, phases of which began
in 2000 and were completed last year, has helped spur
more than $170 million in growth in that area, including
new retail outlets, medical offices, new apartment complexes,
and, according to Holloway, the most significant number:
the construction of more than 500 new homes in that area.

During his half-hour speech, which was sponsored by
the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce, the mayor also updated
residents on dozens of other multi-million-dollar projects.
Among them: widening of Popp’s Ferry from Cedar
Lake to the D’Iberville city limits; adding turn
lanes to intersections on Pass Road; wrapping up work
at the Biloxi sports complex and the Hope VI housing
initiative in east Biloxi; continuing work at the Popp’s
Ferry causeway park; and continuing to deliver city services
to new areas of the city.

The mayor also noted that as the city completed work
on these major projects, it has also faced record levels
of spending in providing day-to-day services for a growing
number of visitors and residents.

The city has gone from spending $6.1 million on major
projects 10 years ago, to between $18 and $22 million
dollars a year in the past several years, and the city’s
annual operating budget has grown from $25 million a
decade ago to more than $50 million last year.

“By the end of this year, the so-called surplus
that you’ve heard about for the past few years
will be down to a 10 percent cushion,” Holloway
said.

As a result, the city must protect and grow its three
revenue sources – gaming and sales taxes, which
account for 58.9 percent of the annual budget, and property
taxes, which provide 17 percent of the city’s annual
budget.

“As mayor, I know that my primary responsibility
to you is to provide the basic services that you expect – safe
neighborhoods for you and your family, good schools for
your children, good recreation, a clean city, and, most
importantly, do all of these things without raising your
taxes. That’s why economic development and striking
a good balance in our local economy are such important
issues. …

“Make no mistake about it, city government and
providing essential services have become big business
in Biloxi.”

 

You can read the text of Mayor Holloway’s State
of the City address and find out about a TV replay Tuesday
morning and afternoon in State of the City coverage on
the city’s new-and-improved web site. To see
the new web site, and read more about the State of
the City, click here.

  • unhonored