MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST — With the deadline extended for federal forgiveness on Hurricane Katrina disaster loans, political entities on the Mississippi Coast are asking one last time.
The cancellation deadline has been extended to April 2014, former Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre told the Sun Herald.
In addition, political jurisdictions are allowed to show disaster losses over five or seven years instead of three.
“I still contend, despite what anybody says, that it was never intended for (political jurisdictions) to have to repay those disaster loans,” Favre said. “It never happened before Katrina.”
Biloxi recently learned that its $11 million Community Disaster Loan has been forgiven. Favre says the city of Pass Christian and the Bay-Waveland School District have qualified for full loan forgiveness, and Gulfport is now using a five-year projection to show revenue losses from the storm.
Gulfport’s sales tax revenues went up 47 percent in 2006 compared with 2005, as people rebuilt from the 2005 storm. But collections decreased from 2007 through 2011, probably due to the recession, and have since been stagnant, according to the city’s analysis.
Favre, who is consulting with Gouras & Associates on Gulfport’s case, also worked with the company on Biloxi’s. Biloxi paid the company $400,000.
Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway had secures business-interruption insurance for casino-revenue losses in case of a hurricane, money that came in handy after Katrina but counted against the city when it came to loan forgiveness.
“It made us look as if we didn’t suffer as much as others did,” city spokesman Vincent Creel said. “Just because we were being prudent and doing the smart thing — we didn’t think we should be penalized for that.”
Pascagoula comptroller Bobby Parker is working on disaster-loan forgiveness for his city. Pascagoula received a general-fund disaster loan of almost $4.5 million and disaster loan for utility repairs of almost $3.3 million. Parker said FEMA has shaved more than $2.9 million off the utility loan. He’s trying to get the balance forgiven, plus the larger general-fund loan.
Otherwise, Pascagoula will have to set aside money each year to pay back the general-fund loan by 2035. Payments have already been made, he said, but if the loan is forgiven, the city could recoup its money.
“It’s not like a lump sum we have to pay them,” Parker said. “That’s a pretty good spread on paying it back.”
In D’Iberville, City Manager Bobby Eleuterius said the council will also be asked to approve a contract with Urban Planning that would pay the company $40,000 for cancellation of a disaster loan of about $1.8 million. If the amount is not reduced or forgiven, D’Iberville won’t have to pay.
“We’re hoping that they help us as well,” Eleuterius said. “It means a lot right now. It would help us an awful lot.”
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