What’s in store to get Harrison County in even ‘better shape’

Beverly Martin talks Tuesday about the county’s services and future.
Beverly Martin talks Tuesday about the county’s services and future. jphampton@sunherald.com

Board of Supervisors President Beverly Martin said Harrison County is in “pretty good shape” after her first eight months in office.

“We hope to make it in better shape,” she said. “We will cut some budgets; hopefully, not any services. This will just be a little trimming up of things that are nonessential to our taxpayers.”

Martin and two other new supervisors took office in January. Martin was elected board president on Day One. She said she believes the board has kept its promises, particularly the promise to review all contracts. One they did not put up for bid was the ambulance service contract with AMR, which Martin said doesn’t cost the county anything.

“We felt like our time would be better spent looking as some of these other contracts that range from $2,300 a month to $80,500 a month,” she said.

New proposals will be sought, she said, for several contracts at the jail, including health and dental, pharmacy and the canteen. They also will seek proposals for the video surveillance systems, engineering for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the Biloxi and Gulfport courthouses, appraisal and insurance services, court collection services and security services.

Her state of the county speech was a civics lesson about all the funds and facilities the supervisors deal with sprinkled with some cheerleading for economic development and other plans for the county.

She said the county will build a state-of-the-art library on Woolmarket Road and finish construction and renovation at the Youth Court.

“It has been a very educational eight months,” she said. “I think I can speak for at least three supervisors.”

She ticked off highlights of economic development including: Topship and Chiquita at the Port of Gulfport, the Medical City complex at Tradition and recreation ventures such as Margaritaville in Biloxi, the zipline at Gulf Islands Water Park in Gulfport and a couple of trampoline parks.

About 19 percent of the people in the county are on some kind welfare, she said. That costs taxpayers $5 million a month. Economic development, she said, should lower those numbers.

“Anytime we have economic development and it might appear we’re giving tax abatements or cuts here or cuts there, just remember that figure — $5 million a month,” she said.