D'Iberville sharing wealth of casino winnings early

 A sign tells future customers that the Scarlet Pearl Casino will open in December 2015.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD A sign tells future customers that the Scarlet Pearl Casino will open in December 2015. SUN HERALD

D'IBERVILLE -- Scarlet Pearl Casino will open in December in D'Iberville and the city is already making use of the more than $1 million expected to be added to the general fund each year.

City officials have worked since 1992 to get a casino to town and have plenty of places to spend the money.

"We gave our employees a good pay raise," said Councilman Henry Toncrey.

"Infrastructure," said Councilman Randall Pelous. Roads across the city are being paved.

"Beautification," said Mayor Rusty Quave. A $20,000 grant from Lowe's was matched with $20,000 from the city to plant palm trees and dress up the D'Iberville exit of Interstate 110 that people will use to reach Scarlet Pearl.

"We're going to do some other projects," Quave said. New entrances to the city were created by the $31 million in improvements to the interstates 10 and 110 intersection, and Quave said those areas also will be enhanced.

The city also invested in three new fire trucks, including a platform ladder truck that would be needed to fight a fire at the casino tower.

Fire Chief Gerald Smith said D'Iberville will donate a pumper truck -- and possibly two fire trucks -- to fire departments in Pearl River County.

The city wouldn't get much more than $5,000 for a used truck, he said.

"For that much let's do some good," he said. "We did some research and everything pointed to Pearl River County as the most likely to need a truck."

Danny Manley drove from Pearl River County to attend Tuesday's council meeting and thank the city in person.

"We've exhausted every state grant," he said. The fire companies are 100 percent volunteer and he said the donated truck would provide coverage in what is now uncovered areas of the county.

"It's nice to be in a position to be able to help," Smith said.

Scarlet Pearl Casino is expected to generate $1.3 million in gross casino revenue for the city's general fund. An additional $653,000 is expected to go for both city public safety and Harrison County schools and $326,000 each for county educational purposes and county public safety.

The city has pledged 35 percent of its sales tax, ad valorem tax and casino revenue to pay the tax increment financing bonds that will be issued for Scarlet Pearl next year for infrastructure, said Sharron Perkins, D'Iberville's chief financial officer.

The city's sales tax diversion was up $385,000 for the fiscal year and the grand opening of the new Academy Sports is Friday adding to D'Iberville's tax revenue.