Biloxi Cashing In On Billion Dollar Jackpot - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/08/05

Biloxi Cashing In On Billion Dollar Jackpot

The soccer fields at Biloxi's sportsplex opened last year and city crews are always touching up. Friday they were they're putting down a new goal.

City Employee Troy Saucier says, "It's coming along. We're just trying to get it to look good and hopefully pretty soon they'll get the parking lot done. We've been working really hard at it the last two to three weeks."

Casino money paid for the $11 million recreation mecca which also includes baseball and softball fields and eventually tennis courts.

Recreation Director Nathan Sullivan says, "Projects like this were unheard of in the recent past prior to gaming. So it really is a good time to be here doing this work. We've been able to do some nice things."

Recreation projects are bankrolled through the city's general fund.

Public safety is also a big budget item. Police and fire upgrades have used $52 million in gaming money. The city's two new fire stations cost about a million dollars each.

Widening Caillavet Street is a $6 million project. That too is paid for with casino taxes.

It's a far cry from the pre-gambling days when Biloxi had only about $300,000 in its capital improvement piggy bank.

"Our capital projects budget has gone as high as 60 to 80 million dollars in the past few years and right now we're spending money at a clip of four million dollars a month to provide city services and do these capital improvement projects," says Biloxi spokesperson Vincent Creel.

Creel says it may sound like the city is rolling in dough, but he says casino money is paying for services citizens and visitors expect.

byMarcia Hill

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