"I'm calling for a federal investigation of it to see if we possibly can get some of the taxpayers' money back." Former Gulfport Mayor Ken Combs is talking about the $33.8 million the city of Gulfport paid to buy Orange Grove Utilities versus the $12 million the city offered while Combs was in office. In a sit down interview with current Mayor Bob Short he said that he didn't come up with that figure.
"We inherited a situation where the utilities should have been bought before we got here," Mayor Short said. "The mayor has no vote on that; that negotiation is done by the city council and the legal team. It's something that if we had not done, you would not have the growth in the Orange Grove area and the city of Gulfport that we've got now."
Combs also criticized Short for not living up to a campaign promise he made four years ago to lower taxes by 10 percent. But Mayor Short says, "We did reduce them by 10 percent, we also reduced the water bills by 10 percent something else we inherited, but you've got to realize that the reappraisal came about in that area, so no matter who would have been here under reappraisal some taxes would go up."
Combs went on to say, "The city is more than $100 million in debt. This is totally irresponsible and shows not a lack of leadership, but no leadership whatsoever."
Mayor Short answered that charge by saying he can't come up with a figure for the city's total debt, but did say that it's due to a number of bonds some of which were taken out before he entered office.