Tax hikes, annexation, and millions in lost revenue. All were key points in Friday's State of the City address in Pass Christian. Mayor Chipper McDermott says his city is in a financial hole, and it will take years and help from the state to come out ahead.
When repairs start on the Pass Christian harbor next week, Mayor Chipper McDermott says it will help repair the city's bleak finances. The damaged harbor is costing the city $250,000 in lost revenue. To make matters worse, he says the city will lose $1.3 million in water and sewer collections, and another $1 million in property taxes.
"We have got serious problems financially. We knew that. You knew that. All you've got to do is look around and you can tell if there is an open space, it's not on the tax roll anymore. Nothing to hide. Nothing to disguise. That's just the facts," Mayor Chipper McDermott said.
Millions in state loans and grants bailed out Pass Christian last year. Mayor McDermott says this year that burden will probably fall on homeowners as higher taxes.
"We haven't had a tax increase in nine years before. It was well managed by the previous administration," said Mayor McDermott. "They did a good job, and I'd just tug along with them. However, times were good then and times aren't as good right now. So there is a possibility there will be a tax increase this year."
Still, there is some good financial news. McDermott had a long list of businesses looking to open. Some of them are on Market Street.
"Davis Avenue and Market Street are about to explode," he said. "I can't tell you everything, but Market Street has plans that are elaborate. You'd think you were in downtown French Quarter."
In the long term, the mayor says Pass Christian's future depends on being a city of more than six square miles. He wants to annex to the north.
"We've had people in the know say that you basically can't live in these boundaries that we've been living in for 307 years. I think it's survival. Survival. "
Mayor McDermott says there are $28 million in projects being considered for Pass Christian. One of them, water and sewer for Scenic Drive, is scheduled to begin in May.