New Long Beach mayor vows to move city forward - - The News for South Mississippi

New Long Beach mayor vows to move city forward

After winning the Long Beach mayoral election, George Bass takes office July 1. (Photo Source: WLOX) After winning the Long Beach mayoral election, George Bass takes office July 1. (Photo Source: WLOX)

For the first time in 12 years, Long Beach will have a new mayor. George Bass, the former fire chief, is preparing to take office on July 1 and his biggest priority is to create new revenue for the city. 

"If we remain status quo we're falling behind," Bass said. "We're the Friendly City. We could be friendly all day long, but if we don't have good sidewalks, bike paths, we don't have the amenities that the folks are looking for, then it's going to be hard for us to sell friendly."

But Bass knows those services and amenities people want aren't free. 

"The answer is we've got to grow our economy." 

To grow the economy and avoid raising the already highest property taxes on the coast, Bass plans to actively pursue new developments, including retail and residential. 

"We need our team to be ready and available to go out and start recruiting these folks to come in," Bass said. "We need to have our numbers ready on this is the square footage cost of this piece of land, this is what it's zoned, this is a tax abatement we can give you, this is what we're going to be able to do to get you in here."

A new development could include a casino. Bass said he doesn't want to see a casino in the harbor, but believes there's plenty of open space elsewhere along the beach where one could go. He'd like to explore the casino options, but with limits. 

"I'm certainly open to looking at it, but it's going to have to be something that benefits Long Beach. It's going to have to fit the neighborhood and it's going to have to fit the zoning."

Bass would like the city step up its marketing effort. One way he could accomplish that is by moving part of the mayor's salary. He said with his retirement, he can only receive a portion of what the mayor is budgeted the make. He'd like to see the rest of the salary moved somewhere else. 

"That can be applied to working on economic development for our city, that can be applied to getting this PR person we need as a city."

Bass felt a calling to lead the city he's called home for his entire life, and he's ready to help make it a better place to live. 

"I love Long Beach. I've represented Long Beach all along the coast here and I'm ready to move forward with it."

In Tuesday's primary, Bass claimed 63 percent of the vote - an impressive showing considering there were five candidates in the race. Along with a new mayor, four of Long Beach's seven Board of Aldermen members will be new. 

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