Ocean Springs may charge for festivals

The annual Peter Anderson Festival has been recognized as a "Top 20 Event" by the Southeast Tourism Society.
The annual Peter Anderson Festival has been recognized as a "Top 20 Event" by the Southeast Tourism Society.

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Like most cities in South Mississippi and across the country, Ocean Springs is struggling to stay on budget.

"We have turned over every stone we have had to, to keep from laying anyone off, from furloughs and to keep from raising taxes and we were able to do that," Alderman Matt McDonnell said.

One of the ways the board proposes to save money is by recouping some of the costs the city incurs from festivals.

"For our two largest events, Cruisin' the Coast and the Peter Anderson Festival, the city has an outlay of about $45,000 per event," McDonnell said.

While the board does not expect organizers to pay the entire cost, they are working on a formula to determine how much to charge different festivals.

"With no track record for an event, that's going to be looked at a little differently, to where we are going to ask promoters to put up a good portion of the money until we determine the success of the event," McDonnell said.

"They need to take a look at the economic impact that comes with an increase in sales tax and other revenue," Cruisin' the Coast Executive Director Woody Bailey said. "The revenue generated should significantly offset the expenditures."

An economic impact study on Cruisin' the Coast showed last fall's event generated more than $19 million across the three coastal counties.

While the city of Ocean Springs would never want to lose any of the big festivals, the board believes it must come up with some sort of solution.

"People like to come here and have fun and we are going to make that a top priority that it continues to happen, but we are going to be smart about it and look at it from a business stand point and make good business decisions," McDonnell said.

The board said they are not going to ask organizers of Cruisin' the Coast or the Peter Anderson Festival to pay some of the money this year, but they will ask them for donations to help offset the cost.

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