Secretary of State defends harbor plan

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The matter of who should control harbors in cities along the coast is expected to be a hot issue in this year's Secretary of State race. Incumbent Delbert Hosemann wants the cities to sign tidelands leases with the state while city leaders object to the plan.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says he wants the harbors to be subject to tidelands leases for one primary reason.

"What it gives us is balance. My requirements are that it be public. When I came down, there were plans for condos around the Gulfport harbor. That means you can't go fishing. That means restricted parking. Those kinds of things are not public."

Cities contend that historically they have managed and collected fees from their own leases. Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach and Pass Christian have all passed resolutions opposing the Secretary of State's pursuit of tidelands leases with the state.

The cities want to keep the money generated by harbors. Hosemann says money is not an issue

"The money goes to the tidelands fund. It does not go to Jackson. $9 million was spent right here last year."

This issue has been in and out of courts for decades. Hosemann wants to avoid more legal arguments

"The state has had enough of courts. We need to be able to settle our differences and concerns with each other without spending more money."

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.