Pascagoula leaders seeking answers after veto from Governor Reeves

Mayor Willis says he doesn't have a "Plan B" as the city is still recovering from a $17 million budgetary deficit a few years back.
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 7:49 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A plan the city of Pascagoula has been discussing for nearly a year was shutdown Thursday -- at least for now -- after a veto from Governor Tate Reeves.

”We’re just confused as to why we were singled out as not meeting the criteria, and all those other projects were allowed to remain funded,” said the city’s mayor, Dr. Jay Willis.

Willis is searching for answers after learning Governor Tate Reeves line-item vetoed a $1 million project to rehabilitate city offices. He says the project is similar to at least 10 other projects in the “2022 Local Improvements Projects Fund” that were approved by the legislature.

“We believe it’s really a cost-effective plan for the city and a proper expenditure of funds to deal with renovations in one building that will take care of the needs of numerous city buildings spread all across the community,” said Willis.

However, Governor Reeves didn’t agree. In a statement, he said in part, “I vetoed some spending that is simply not state taxpayers’ responsibility. We gave it up for this express reason: to avoid putting you on the hook for these types of expenses.”

“Long-term we would save,” said Pascagoula City Manager Michael Silverman. “Not only for the city, in terms of cost, but also for our citizens and not having to drive to different venues and locations.”

“Rather than driving to 14th Street for the Building and Planning Department, and other buildings for utilities and city hall services, we’re hoping it could all be in one location,” added Willis.

Silverman says Pascagoula leaders will meet with the governor and his staff to find out why their project was nixed.

“Our legislators have done a great job for our community, and we’re truly thankful,” Silverman said. “Again, this is a disappointment, but Pascagoula has some resilient people, and we will keep moving forward.”

“Certainly we want to have that conversation,” said Willis. “Whether that will lead to finding out exactly why this happened, there is no way to know.”

Mayor Willis said he doesn’t have a backup plan as the city is still recovering from a $17 million budgetary deficit a few years back. He added he does not want to raise ad valorem taxes to foot the bill.

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