Miller asks Mississippi Legislature for more money for DMR

jphampton@sunherald.comAugust 20, 2013 



BILOXI -- The state Department of Marine Resources will ask the Legislature for a 4 percent increase in its budget for the fiscal year that will begin July 1, according to a budget request unveiled Tuesday at the Commission on Marine Resources meeting.

"Since FY 2000, the MDMR general fund appropriations have fell [sic] from $2,704,452 (FY 2000) to $1,125,351 (FY 2014)," Executive Director Jamie Miller wrote in a letter to the Legislative Budget Office that accompanied the FY 2015 budget request. Miller said he'll make the case for the budget before the Legislative Budget Committee in September. Hearings will be Sept. 16-19 but the dates and times haven't been set.

Miller also offered copies of the budget to the public at the meeting.

"We wanted to make this document public … we've made about 50 copies available to whoever wants to pick one up on the way out, and we also can make a copy available for you in digital format if you request that," he said. "We want to make sure that everybody is aware of our budget, how we operate with the state and the request we have made for the next fiscal year."

Miller said other sources of revenue -- disaster-relief money from the federal government for Katrina and from BP for the oil spill -- that helped ease the budget shortfall have dried up. Salaries are driving that budget shortfall.

"In fiscal year 2013, salaries paid by nonfederal funding were $5,533,065, which has outpaced agency revenue needed to cover just our personnel expenses," he wrote. "We look forward to addressing this important budget issue with you so our agency can continue to provide essential law enforcement, marine science and regulatory functions for the state."

Miller is asking for an increase of $429,497 -- $331,497 more for salaries, wages and fringe benefits and $98,000 more for commodities (maintenance and construction materials and supplies, office supplies, professional and scientific supplies and such). Spending for travel, $100,132; contractual services, $1,647,706; and capital outlay, $352,600 would stay the same.

This year's estimated spending is $10,722,235 and the budget request would increase that to $11,151,732 next year. Of that, $1,554,848 would come from state general-fund appropriations. The federal share is expected to be $3,427,558, $3,050,000 is expected from the off-road fuel tax, $1,350,000 from license and miscellaneous fees and $1,769.326 from other nonfederal funds.

Fishermen fined

The commission also fined several fishermen for violations:

n De Nguyen was fined $1,000 with $500 suspended provided he does not get another violation for two years and pays $500 within 45 days. He was caught with three red snapper out of season.

n Sony Nguyen was fined $1,000 with $500 suspended. He was caught with five red snapper out of season and one undersized lane snapper.

n Christopher Howard, Russell Howard and Emmanual Bryant were fined $1,000 each for possessing 29 red snapper out of season and possession of undersized red snapper.

n Arthur Sutherland was fined $2,000 for possession of two red snapper out of season. The commission dismissed charges against two other men who were with Sutherland after he told commissioners he wanted to take full responsibility for the violations "so my friends will go fishing with me again."

Requests approved

The commission also:

n Approved a no-wake zone on Parker's Creek from the boat launch on East Oaklawn Road in Biloxi to a lake that feeds into the Tchoutacabouffa River.

n Approved a permit for Jackson County to dredge and maintain for 10 years a navigational channel in Simmons Bayou in Ocean Springs.

n Heard a report that another red snapper season will likely start Oct. 1 and last 21 days. The Fisheries Service has decided if fishing will be limited to weekends.

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