SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - It’s a vote required by state law to take place every 25 years. Cities where Mississippi Power operates vote on their franchise fee.
State law mandates the power company pay cities at least 2% of their revenues, but if you vote “yes,” individual cities will receive 3%.
The 1% difference means cities could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue for each of the next 25 years. In Biloxi, that means around $700,000 a year. In Gulfport, it is more than $900,000 a year.
“If we end up going from the 3% down to the 2% of course the city budget will be impacted,” said Gulfport Public Information Officer Lashaundra McCarty. “And what that looks like for us, really it cuts across several departments because that money goes into a general fund. And general funds money can be used for anything from salaries to services, so things like our road projects, our beautification.”
The vote comes at a time when municipal budgets are already under a tight squeeze.
“The city, just like every other entity in the community, has been hit by COVID-19. And so it really isn’t a great time for us to be receiving less revenue that could be contributing to our services,” McCarty said.
Despite it’s importance, officials don’t expect a big turnout for Tuesday’s election. The last time this vote was held in 1995, only 523 of Biloxi’s 27,000 registered voters cast a ballot.
Getting out the vote for this election will be tough, but if you do vote, cities and Mississippi Power want you to vote yes.
“If you go ahead and vote yes for this it will not impact your power company if you are not a Mississippi Power Company customer, not will it increase your rates,” McCarty said.
Even if you don’t get your power from Mississippi Power, you can still vote on the measure.
Municipal election polls will be be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Masks will be required in Harrison and Jackson County and are suggested in all other counties. In Bay St. Louis, the Ward 4 polling place at Christ Episcopal Church does require a mask. If you do not have one, poll workers will bring a ballot outside to you.
South Mississippi cities voting for the measure are Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Gulfport, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Long Beach, Moss Point, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Wiggins, Picayune, and Poplarville.