- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - Pascagoula Mayor Jim Blevins says city leaders want to issue a general obligation municipal bond in 2014 to pay for long-term projects.

The bond would be used to fund projects in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, infrastructure work, clean up blighted properties and complete major drainage work.

Blevins, in his State of the City address Wednesday, said the city hasn’t nailed down a figure yet, but it could be in the range of $10 million to $20 million.

Blevins said the city could also use money from the city’s general fund to pay for the bond or use a sales tax on restaurants.

“We’re looking at what options we have,” he said. “Some of those might be cutting our existing expenses and just shifting priorities to pay for things for a while.”

The mayor said the city does not plan to cut services, however.

Blevins said city staff met Wednesday with organizers of Cruisin’ The Coast to see Pascagoula could become part of the event. The car show, which draws thousands to the Mississippi Coast, has not had a venue in Pascagoula in several years.

“I’m not going to say that we’ve got that locked in by any means, but they heard us loud and clear,” he said. “We had a great show and tell for them. They have a great event there, and really the purpose of our meeting this morning was to ensure that they know Pascagoula is going to help the Cruisin’ the Coast event grow.”

There’s been an increase in collections for 10 consecutive months, the mayor said.

In fiscal year 2014’s first quarter, the city collected $1.36 million in sales taxes, compared to $1.3 million in the same period of fiscal year 2013. In fiscal year 2012, that total was just less than $1.29 million.

The fiscal year runs from October to September, so the first quarter of the fiscal year includes October, November and December data.

Blevins said he and Pascagoula City Council members are focused on priorities such as riverfront development, drainage, parks and recreation, blighted properties and marketing the city’s assets.

Additional priorities include establishing a Mayor’s Youth Council to engage students, supporting and developing the Pascagoula Main Street program, increasing recycling by at least 20 percent and working toward a “One Coast” marketing program with other coastal mayors.

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