Local Governments May Trim Their Donations

In order to bring the 16 year old Babe Ruth World Series to Gulfport, tournament organizers had to come up with $40,000. Tournament organizer Hugh Keating turned to the city of Gulfport. "I can't think of a better way to spend money in your community that to bring in events of this nature, this scale, this magnitude," he said, "because it comes back to you many times over."

The Babe Ruth payment was not in Gulfport's 2001 budget. The city had to come up with that money. Because of tightening budgets, that sort of spending is about to be scrutinized more closely by cities and counties up and down the coast.

Gulfport council president Billy Hewes said his city "is in a crisis situation in some areas, with the water and sewer situation and the drainage problems that we have. And we need to address the basic necessities before we address the frills."

According to Harrison County supervisor Connie Rockco, "Everyone is cutting back. And it was very reasonable for us to cut back $400,000." That's how much Harrison County supervisors trimmed from their escrow account. They're trying to stop spending so much on things they don't put in their budget.

"While I can't speak for the rest of the board," Rockco said, "I would like to see us do more budgeting restraints and make sure that everything is budgeted correctly."

Whether future events like thw baseball tournament get a financial assist from cities and counties can't be answered right now. "There are a lot of organizations that depend on our support," Hewes said. "But I'll tell you, the one's that we've heard from, they understand the city has problems. And they're not totally receptive to fit, but they do understand the situation."

Each September, governments budget specific amounts of money that they give to non profit groups. Once the budget year begins, other groups come by and ask for donations. For instance, Gulfport passed out $119,000 last year that it didn't have in its budget. That's the spending practice that may be cut.