GULFPORT, MS - Tis the season for budget discussions. Every city goes through it, and it's never easy. Over the past five years, the City of Gulfport has been gradually cutting it's debt.
"Obviously, we don't want to raise taxes on anyone and it's not on the table to do. So you have to look in your current budget and see if there are any areas to save, and it's been very difficult to come to any kind of determination on where we can save money," said Scott Wilson, the city's new financial officer.
Gulfport has been anticipating the building of a new casino. Last year, the city even factored those lease payments into their budget, which left them reaching into an empty wallet. Councilman Ricky Dombrowski says they have budgeted much better this year.
"The casino's revenue is not included in this year's budget. We decided to just leave it out. That was a hit that we took. We have been talking to those guys and they're looking to still bring that project to us," said Dombrowski.
According to Wilson, the city hopes to break-even with this year's budget. If that happens, it will be the first time in years. One of the key factors is that sales tax revenue is going up.
"That means people are coming in, spending their money in our area, our location. I think sales tax growth can be where we see the most growth." said Wilson.
Along with increased sales tax revenue, the city also expects three new hotels to open in the next fiscal year. As for the planned casino, Dombrowski told us that tentative plans call for a ground breaking, which may come as early as September.