Biloxi not funding social service organizations this year

Moore Community House
Moore Community House
Back Bay Mission
Back Bay Mission

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Social service organizations have been a part of the city of Biloxi for most of the past century. But, a recent lack of action has left these organizations questioning their future. For some 30 years now, the city of Biloxi has been helping to fund several social service agencies. In just the past 24 years, the city has given more than $11 million to the agencies. This year, that's changing.

For the most part, these service agencies won't get a dime from the city, at least this year.

Carol Burnett is the executive director of Moore Community House in Biloxi, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary of service.

"The city hasn't declined our application, they've just not voted on it," said Burnett.

For more than three decades, the city has provided funding for the organization. Now that the funds aren't there, Burnett is pleading to the city to take action.

Burnett said she's not looking for a government hand-out, but rather, a partnership with the city.

"We make it possible for hundreds of families to go to work, and we're an employer, and we contribute to the economy, making it possible for so many families to make it on their own," said Burnett.

Another service agency suffering from the lack of funds is Back Bay Mission. Executive Director Charles Brown said he wants the city to think of the funding as a business move.

"We are looking for an investment. We are wanting the city to invest in Back Bay Mission, and when they invest in Back Bay Mission, they get a return on it," said Brown.

But this year, the investment hasn't come.

The city's fiscal year ends in September, which means that voting on the new budget happens around the same time. Biloxi's Public Affairs Manager Vincent Creel said this past fall, the city council decided to push back its vote on assigning money to social service organizations to the first of the calendar year.

"Now what's happening is that you've got a number of these social service agencies that are coming to the city saying, 'Hey, it's after the first of the year, where do we stand?'" said Creel.

City Council President Paul Tisdale said that he pushed the vote back even further at a January 30 meeting partly due to the down turned economy.

Creel said the city understands that this issue goes deeper than what it looks like on the surface.

"Unfortunately for many of these groups, it's hurting them in trying to get grants from either the state government, federal government, or other sources. Because, what they need is local money to leverage, to get those grants," said Creel.

So, no funding doesn't just mean these organizations are out the basic amount the city gives them. With matching programs, those amounts could be up to double.

Council President Tisdale says it could be September before the funding is voted on again.

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