Mayor: Biloxi can't afford to fund museums

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Tourism, water bills and tax dollars were the talk Wednesday morning at Biloxi Mayor AJ Holloway's annual Breakfast with the Mayor. Many people turned out to hear what the mayor had to say about what is in store for the city.

Eggs and bacon were served up with a side of financial woes.

"The City Council and I are working on drafting a new budget for FY 2012. Our hope is to have something in place at the end of this month," Mayor AJ Holloway said.

Along with that hope, Holloway pointed out several financial problems the city must overcome, including funding issues with the Ohr O'Keefe Museum of Art.

"We just need to be careful because these operations take a lot of money and the city cannot keep putting tax dollars into museums for the operations and maintenance of them," said Holloway.

Biloxi resident Mary Rose Leahy, who has spoken out before about not wanting tax dollars to go toward the museum, agrees.

"Apparently, enough people have contacted him saying they don't want the tax payers' money going to this museum," Leahy said.

She feels the preservation of Biloxi's heritage is important, but not at the taxpayers' expense.

"It's not whether or not you appreciate this museum. It's that it was built by a private industry without any input from the public. And now the museum wants public money to support it," said Leahy.

"We'll do what we can, but I think they are going to have to get some money from grants, from donations, just whatever they can," Holloway said. "If it continues like it is, the city cannot continue to, I guess you could say, finance their operations."

Mayor Holloway said since he has been mayor, the Ohr has received close to $8 million from the city.

During Mayor Holloway's speech, he said the city is not looking to increase taxes. He also said water bills will be lowered about $60 per year for the average customer who uses about 8,000 gallons of water per month.

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