Charities, service providers dealing with Biloxi budget cuts

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi's budget cuts have left organizations and service providers scrambling to make ends meet. The council approved a 20 percent cut in funds to groups like charities and those under contract with the city.

Coast Transit Authority had a record year last year. And this year, the authority is on track to have another one with more than 950,000 riders. As a service provider under contract with the city, CTA is feeling a 20 percent cut. That amounts to about $70,000.

"The cut from the city of Biloxi was more than we expected, but we do understand the economic climate," Director of CTA Kevin Coggin.

Coggin said the authority will first work to make cuts internally, but that the 20 percent cut will likely have some impact on services.

"We'll look at low ridership [on certain routes] and during certain times of the days and week... to have the least amount of impact on our riders," Coggin said.

It's a similar story at Back Bay Mission, an outreach ministry providing numerous services to the poor and homeless.

"Many more people are coming to us for more survival kind of assistance.  It is difficult to lose any funding," said Back Bay Mission Director Shari Prestemon.

Back Bay will take about a $5,000 hit from the cuts, in particular to its emergency relief funds.

"Rental relief, utility relief, food assistance and that type of things for clients, that's where the direct impact is felt for us," Prestemon said.

Directors at both Back Bay and CTA say making cuts in other areas and finding alternative sources of funding is now their primary focus.

Coggin said CTA will hold a meeting for public comment before any major changes to services are made.

Unlike furloughs which can be stopped should the city's financial situation improve, the cuts to non-departmental groups like charities and service providers, as it stands now, will apply for the entire budget year.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.