Ocean Springs leaders looking at ways to minimize city festival expenses

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The City of Ocean Springs is known for its festivals and special events. Those activities can require city resources. As the city starts to see more and more interest from event organizers,  leaders are having to take a closer look at some of the expenses the city incurs.

Though festivals and other special events in Ocean Springs are a big economic driver, according to city leaders, Ocean Springs is only able to receive a small portion of sales tax that the festivals generate.

To maintain a high level of cleanliness and safety, these events require city man power.

"Something as simply as a 5k run requires a police officer and some light duty by our public works department to put out barricades or something along those lines. So we're looking pretty much at everything," Ward 2 Alderman Matt McDonnell.

Though the city is still working on a list of special events they serviced last year and working to calculate how much they spent on overtime, McDonnell confirms the overtime cost is in the thousands.

"We recognize the importance of these events and were going to continue to support these events. What we're trying to do is minimize the amount of overtime that we're incurring. That's what we're seeing escalating quickly. Overtime is really not a budgeted item," said McDonnell said.

McDonnell says the city has no interest in minimizing the city services that help make events in Ocean Springs stand out. However, the city is looking at a few ways to minimize the expenses they incur.

"Auxiliary police or flexing some of the public works employees to where if they're working Saturday and Sunday, they may get a Monday and a Tuesday off. One of the areas that we also are going to look is if we're able to utilize a small portion of the 2 percent food and beverage to offset some of these costs. Because in the end the restaurants and lounges are definitely benefiting," said McDonnell.

McDonnell says the festivals have an indirect economic impact of millions of dollars to businesses in Ocean Springs. Another costs savings idea the city is considering is charging a nominal fee for events that are considered for-profit.

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