Mayor Rusty Quave ended his State of the City address Wednesday at Scarlet Pearl Casino by revealing what people close to him had advised him to keep quiet about — for now.
"This is going to be my last term as mayor," he announced. The room hushed.
He's only the second mayor in D'Iberville's 30-year history and the longest-serving mayor in South Mississippi. He was re-elected for his seventh term in 2017 and by the time of the next municipal election in 2021 will have served 28 years.
Quave rebuilt the city after Hurricane Katrina, but that took so much of his attention, he lost his family grocery store. Quave said he owes the Small Business Association almost $1 million and said he has another challenge on his hands that he said he thinks he can win as he goes after the SBA to get the loans overturned.
He's got a track record of success. D'Iberville became known for extending tax increment financing bonds to attract shopping and restaurants to the interstate. He said the city is drawing about $350,000 a year in sales tax from areas developed through TIF bonds.
Scarlet Pearl Casino is bringing in about $5 million a month in casino revenue, he said, which grows the D'Iberville general fund by about $75,000 a month in addition to supporting the local schools and emergency services.
For the final three years of his term and beyond, Quave said the focus will be on creating a vibrant D'Iberville downtown. The city has hired an economic development director and Quave said they are planning an economic development summit to bring together real estate professionals and developers and to explore opportunities.
"We still have a lot of vacant property," he said, not just in D'Iberville but across South Mississippi.
"We want to do business," he said.