Biloxi Mayor: Drop in gaming revenue could cost taxpayers

By Toni Miles - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Friday's overcast weather was a bleak backdrop to coast casinos, capturing the mood as dozens of casino employees are now without jobs.

"The casinos have been laying off. The Grand laid off 40. The Beau has laid of ten to 15 people. Those are the only two that I've heard of that have told me. I'm sure the others have tightened up too, because every one of them, except one casino's revenue was down the last month," Mayor Holloway said.

He said the city and tax payers could also feel the pinch before long.

"Our water and sewer is $4 million in the hole right now. We're going to have to do something. I hate to say this, but we can't continue that. We have the lowest water and sewer rates in the nation. We've been subsidizing with the gaming money," Mayor Holloway said.

Holloway said if gaming revenues continue to drop, some capital improvement projects, such as the repaving of Bent Oaks subdivision, would be put on hold.

"We've got Brodie Road, Brasher Road, Bent Oaks, Saylor Drive... those projects we're working on to improve the area of the streets. Some of them are dangerous," he said.

And the mayor believes things will get worse before they get better.

"There's only one way we can go if the gaming revenues get worse, and we don't have any money coming to our general fund. I don't think we can raise taxes in the middle of the year, but we would have to tighten up, put a freeze on employment. If somebody leaves, we won't be able to replace them," he said.

Mayor Holloway said February was the only month this year that casinos have been in the black. He said it's all reflective of the nation's stagnant economy and that Las Vegas and Atlantic city have been seeing this for months.