Social Services plead for funding from city of Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With decreased budgets, cities across the coast struggle with how to fund their local social services. Thursday, the Biloxi City Council heard from several organizations who say its funding is shrinking every year.

Leaders for several non-profit and for-profit organizations pleaded to the Biloxi City Council for yearly funding. But as the organization's leaders prepare their budgets with city funding in mind, Council President Paul Tisdale says money is never guaranteed.

"I think new council members, including myself, are scrutinizing the expenditures more carefully this year as we try to make difficult decisions on which of these programs to fund," said Tisdale.

He said a new council means different ideas and beliefs on the way money is spent. He went on to list several reasons why funding could be cut, such as our recent cold spell causing city workers to work overtime, and the fact that city employees haven't had a raise in five years.

"If we're going to set aside funds for what we term non-departmental entities, social agencies, or groups, then we want to look very carefully at how much is going to be administered and to whom," said Tisdale.

Although no decisions have been made yet, people like Lisa Wilbourn, who works with the Gulf Coast Women's Center for Non-Violence, say the center's local funding is decreasing every year and it's getting to be very stressful.

"We've had to cut programs. Well, not programs so much as we've cut positions through attrition. When somebody leaves, we don't necessarily fill that position," said Wilbourn.

She said several of the center's 32 employees have had to take a pay cut.  She, along with several other organizations' leaders, are hoping they won't see another significant decrease from local aid.

Councilman Tisdale said it may take weeks or even months before they can make a decision on how to allocate funds.

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