State of the City 2010
by Keith Burton - GCN 1/27/10
Well known as someone who was not born with a "golden tongue," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, never-the-less, wowed an audience of more than 600 in his 2010 State of the City speech at a luncheon meeting of the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce today.
The chamber's meeting, held at the Beau Rivage, is typically the chamber's most attended meeting and this year's presentation by Holloway impressed everyone with its breadth and scope. Holloway spoke regarding where the city is at some four and a half years after Katrina and the impact of the current economic condition affecting the city and nation.
In one summarizing statement Holloway told the audience, "We're past the days of seeking federal funding and insurance money. We're past the days of designing new buildings, or drafting plans to restore old ones, We're past the point of drawing up construction contracts, and we're even past the point of hiring contractors. We have hired them."
"We are at the end of the beginning," said Holloway.
Holloway went through a detailed description of the immense work that has been underway and the work that is now hitting the ground, including $356 million infrastructure rebuild and numerous new and rebuilt city buildings that are coming out of the ground.
Early in his speech, Holloway, Biloxi's five-term mayor, also struck down a recent rumor that he was going to perhaps retire before his term would expire.
"I don't know how this got started," Holloway said. "but I'm here today to clear it up. The rumor is I'm going to resign in February. Well, to tell the truth, I have given it some thought, and I MIGHT resign in February....2017," said Holloway with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
Holloway went into much detail regarding how the national financial condition has cut city tax revenue and what his administration is doing about it. He also noted how finances and the lack of development money has sharply cut new projects from developers.
"At this time a year ago, gross gaming revenue at the Biloxi casinos was $56 million off the previous year. This past year, it was almost $120 million off. Those are staggering numbers, and by comparison we get a small percent of money from gaming taxes, but itís still a third of our annual budget," said Holloway.
"That figure is more than $3 million off over the past two years. Thatís $256,000 down a year ago, and more than $2.8 million down in the past 12 months. Overall, itís about 10 percent off."
"Weíre seeing this because of the economy. Make no mistake about it," Holloway added.
But he noted that the city is far better off than many others as a result of millions of dollars in federal recovery money that is being spent. He also noted that the city remains an attractive and prosperous community to live in and develop. Holloway also noted the thousand new homes recently completed for servicemen stationed at Keesler A.F.B.
To read all of Holloway's State of City 2010 Speech and the details of
what is underway in Biloxi,