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Clark Returns $2.3 Million to Gulf Coast From Tideland Lease Collections

From: Office of the Secretary of State         Filed 11/29/06 GCN

Secretary of State Eric Clark today presented a check for $2,327,556 to the Department of Marine Resources from tideland lease revenue collected on the Mississippi Gulf Coast last year, the first full year of lease collections after Hurricane Katrina.

“Tidelands lease collections are indispensable to rebuilding the infrastructure of the Gulf Coast,” Clark said.  “This year we collected less money than in the past due to the impact of the Hurricane on our largest leaseholders. However, I’m confident that as rebuilding continues we’ll see this annual return increase.”

“Since 1990, the Secretary of State’s Office has collected more than $60 million in tidelands leases for the use of the public tidelands,” Clark continued.  “As lease holders rebuild and the new tidelands assessment begins for land-based casinos, we’ll see more tidelands projects improve the quality of life for Coast residents and visitors.”

The people of Mississippi own the public trust tidelands, the land covered by water at high tide. Rent is collected by the Secretary of State’s Office from tidelands leaseholders, including casinos.  The Mississippi Supreme Court recently unanimously affirmed the right of the state to collect lease payments on publicly owned tidelands.

Under the state law allowing land-based casinos, casinos located on land that do not have a tidelands lease for gaming will pay a tidelands assessment, the amount of which is based on the casino's capital investment.

As Secretary of State, Clark negotiates tidelands leases on behalf of the state.  Traditionally, the Mississippi Legislature appropriates the lease revenue for specific projects.  This year, the Legislature (House Bill No. 1562 - 2006 Regular Session) authorized the required annual payment for the purchase of Deer Island and other projects to be determined by the Department of Marine Resources.

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