- Associated Press - Friday, September 4, 2015

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Biloxi officials have approved a plan to create a perpetual fund with its $4.1 million settlement from the BP oil spill.

The city council approved the plan Tuesday to create an Economic Development Security Fund that could provide an incentive to draw new businesses to the city or help existing businesses expand, multiple media outlets reported.

“What we’re doing is creating an opportunity for the city to borrow from itself, to avoid interest payments, to be able to match any state or federal grants that become available, and we’d do it while growing the $4.1 million,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said.

According to the Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1O13wni), officials said the fund can be used to secure grants and loans from the Mississippi Development Authority and other local, state or federal agencies. Officials said it could also be used to temporarily fund community promotions or special events, as well as to support city investment in public utilities.

Based on the resolution, the fund can only be used on the condition that it can be repaid.

“We’ll always have a healthy ending fund balance because the fund will either be cash or receivables from the economic-development projects we fund,” Gilich said.

Last week, Biloxi City Attorney Gerald Blessey suggested the state should create a similar fund.

“This BP money is a great opportunity for the state to use its $750 million to create a similar perpetual fund here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where it would improve the areas most impacted by the oil spill,” Blessey said.

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