A settlement over the economic damages caused by the 2010 BP oil spill will soon bring millions of dollars to Mississippi Gulf Coast cities, counties and school districts. MPB’s Evelina Burnett looks at how the money might be spent.
Cities and counties have been announcing their individual settlement amounts with B-P over the past two weeks or so, with figures ranging from about $300,000 for smaller cities like Long Beach, up to nearly $5 million for Biloxi, minus attorney's fees.
Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel says Mayor FoFo Gilich wants to set up a special economic development fund with the money.
"The big thing is that this money will allow us to more rapidly respond when we have development opportunities here in Biloxi," Creel says. "What the mayor wants to do is to make sure that we use this money wisely and to its maximum benefit."
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes says Gulfport is getting $4.4 million, but there are no firm plans yet for spending the money. He says it's likely to be discussed in the city's budget talks, which are starting soon.
"We've got a lot of needs in the city," Hewes says. "I think most cities probably have more demands and opportunities to spend it than you can cover. We'll take a look at infrastructure, which includes your water, sewer, drainage, roads. There's some debt we can pay down. So there are plenty of places to apply that money."
Pascagoula, which is getting $2 million, says leaders will consider plans once the money is received, likely within 30 days of BP receiving the city’s paperwork.
Jackson County will get $2.4 million, as will Harrison County.
"The board hasn't gone into any discussion specifically as to how we will use the money," says Harrison County Supervisor Marlin Ladner. "However, we're going into budget discussions later this month and early next month, and we will discuss how we'll use the money."
Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie says the city may use part of the money to buy new computers so they can go paperless for city meetings.
All together, more than $20 million will be received by coast counties and cities, along with several million more for school districts. The state of Mississippi will receive $1.5 billion under the same agreement.