Biloxi sees pushback on proposed special events ordinance

Biloxi sees pushback on proposed special events ordinance

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A newly proposed ordinance in Biloxi wasn't well received during Tuesday's public hearing at city hall. The ordinance on special events calls for some new requirements that organizers have to meet before they can hold an event in the city.

Some event organizers say they already meet with the city for their events, and there's simply too much red tape.

"I don't know what sanitation costs, but I know what estimates have gone through my mind, and I don't have the tens of thousands of dollars in this krewe that would cause us to leave," said a Krewe of Neptune representative.

Krewe of Neptune members say they are concerned about the requirements placed in Biloxi's newly proposed special events ordinance.  According to attorney Nicole Sullivan, the ordinance is meant to alleviate the stress on the resources for the city and hold an event organizer accountable.

"Part of the problem with these larger events is how taxing these larger events are on the police department and fire department and public works," said Sullivan.

Sullivan said ultimately the city ends up footing the bill for the departments that work in conjunction with special events.

Part of the proposed ordinance calls for charging event organizers a permit fee of 5 percent of the anticipated attendance. Cruisin' the Coast Executive Director Woody Bailey had a lot of concerns about the ordinance.

"How do we determine who those attendees are? Is it just the ones who attend the Biloxi Block Party for example? What about the spectators? It's very hard to determine how this fee structure may work," said Bailey.

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller and Fire Chief Joe Boney say the city needs something to hold people accountable for special events.

"It's not a fix all initially, but I think working together with the community, I think we can come up with something that everyone's comfortable with," said Boney.

Councilman Robert Deming called the proposal a fruitless endeavor that wouldn't get his support.

"It's dangerous to add more red tape. Even if it doesn't cost money for a promoter.," said Deming.

Another issue organizers had is some of the proposed permit conditions include restrictions on amplified sound.

"This ordinance is designed to address Spring Break, and on its face, it doesn't do that. If we have something at the Coliseum, do we enforce the Coliseum on this ordinance. If you want to regulate Spring Break, maybe you should actively get involved in sponsoring spring break," said a Spring Break supporter. 

City leaders agree there is still a lot of discussion needed on the proposed ordinance and several questions still need to be answered.

If passed, some organizers say they would strongly consider moving their events elsewhere.

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