- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich says he wants Biloxi to seek more state tidelands money for waterfront improvements, reflecting the fact that the city’s casinos and other businesses made 84 percent of tidelands payments last year.

The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1YokjrC) reports Biloxi has sent in applications for projects worth $14.75 million this year.

Gilich says Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann told him Biloxi didn’t submit enough projects for approval in the past. The state Department of Marine Resources recommends projects to the Legislature, which decides how money should be spent.

The state collects tidelands money from businesses that lease submerged bottomlands. Last year Biloxi properties generated $6.9 million, or 84 percent, of the payments into the fund. The city got back $680,000 - less than 7 percent of awards.

“We have more applications in this year than there is money available,” city attorney Gerald Blessey said. “We don’t ever again want anyone to say we’re not asking for enough. While we don’t expect 100 percent to come to Biloxi, we do think it’s a bit out of balance here.”

The eight grant applications submitted this year are to fund more sweeping projects designed to generate tourism and make wise use of the money to generate jobs, Blessey said.

Marine Resources scored two of Biloxi’s proposals in the top 10 among applications. One would spend $2 million to construct a waterfront boardwalk south of Biloxi Bay Bridge, where the state fishing pier and the shoreline boardwalks are in disrepair since Hurricane Katrina, remove sediment from the Point Cadet Marina and dredge the waterfront where debris from Katrina is still in the water.

A second would spend $500,000 to connect the existing walkway at Biloxi Waterfront Park to the Point Cadet fishing bridge and provide signs about native plants and migratory birds.

“Invest in the Coast,” Blessey said. “We’ll send Jackson more money.”

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