Pascagoula emerges from budget deficit and grows the city along the way

Pascagoula has emerged from a $14 million deficit just five years after finding the shortfall.

The city officially emerged from the red in January. City Manager Michael Silverman and Mayor Dr. Jay Willis spoke to WXXV to talk about how they were able to erase the debt so quickly — and continue to grow as a city during that time.

Silverman gave credit to the city council, comptroller and department heads for their fiscally conservative approach, which included having employees take on multiple tasks to reduce payroll.

“One thing they adopted was that people took on a variety of tasks,” Silverman said. “We asked them to be versatile. For instance, our Community Relations department consolidated to 1 department head. By going from four people to 1 person, we were able to save $200,000.”

Silverman also said the 2018 City Council laid the groundwork for the plan the city would follow for the next five years.

“Most organizations would not see the growth and development we’ve seen in that time frame,” he said. “We’ve been fiscally conservative and used grant money to support some major projects.”

Willis said the discipline maintained by Silverman, the comptroller and the city council to keep spending in line with out making the citizens suffer.

“I don’t believe the citizens felt that city services were curtailed,” Willis said. “It was a lean process. Anything that was requested was scrutinized.”

Other things — like a community disaster loan after Hurricane Katrina — were forgiven, which helped, too.

And while the city took a conservative approach to spending in order to erase the deficit, city leaders also took advantage of financing from other avenues to continue to grow the city.

“We got $54 million in private funds for downtown mixed use development, $10.5 million investment in drainage and $2.5 million in water and sewer, plus we’ve got Amtrak coming back,” Willis said. “That some major development taking place. And that doesn’t happen without someone leading the way.”

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