Tidelands money built the Forrest Avenue pier. On the same pier, Secretary of State Eric Clark handed over a hefty check to the Department of Marine Resources. "And this year it's a record, it's $5.45 million," says Clark.
The DMR already has the money spent on 20 public projects. It will, among other things, pay for the latest phase of pier and bulkhead work at the Lee Street harbor. In conjunction with the George Ohr museum, the funds will also build marina space across from Tullis Manor for Biloxi's two schooners, and the Biloxi harbor will get some sprucing up.
DMR Director Dr. William Walker says, "It takes about two years. We rank the projects that we're gonna try to fund and it looks like this amount of money that we got today is gonna be enough to fund all of the ones we anticipate funding."
Clark adds, "It's money that's doing local projects for citizens of the coast and visitors to the coast that doesn't have to be funded with local taxes."
The big check includes a half million dollars that came from a land settlement between the Isle of Capris Casino and the Marine Education Center. The Secretary of State says that money will help pay off the bonds to buy Deer Island.
"The bonds haven't been issued yet. We don't know exactly how much the debt service is gonna be on the bonds every year but I'm confident that the new money comin' into the tidelands fund from the Point Cadet agreement will pay more than half the cost of retirin' those bonds over the ten years of their life," says Clark.
He says the best part about that is, the bonds will be paid off without any cost to taxpayers.