by Lyndy Berryhill

In response to online chatter, city officials from Long Beach and Pass Christian say power rate increases would not happen based on upcoming vote.

At upcoming special election on Tuesday, August 4, voters will either reduce or maintain city revenue streams for the next 25 years from Mississippi Power.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We would prefer to have a ‘yes’ vote,” said Long Beach Comptroller Kini Gonsoulin.

Voting “No” would cut thousands of dollars from city budgets.

Gonsoulin said Long Beach would lose a third of the annual revenue it receives from Mississippi Power, which would be more than $140,000 each year.

“We would have to find some other revenue to make that up,” Gonsoulin said.

The current franchise tax agreement has required Mississippi Power to pay municipalities three percent of gross revenue for the last 25 years, which they collect from residents and businesses.

Gonsoulin said although no residents have called the city to confirm this, she has seen concerns on social media of power rate increases if residents vote to maintain the three percent tax.  She said voting “yes” would not equal power rate increases.

“I don’t anticipate that would happen,” she said.

Gonsoulin said maintaining the franchise tax agreement would not change anything for Mississippi Power’s bottom line.

“It’s not any different than what they’ve been paying,” Gonsoulin said. “I don’t feel like it would affect taxpayers at all.”

She said since they have been operating with the agreement for the past 25 years, it is likely the tax is budgeted already.

Pass Christian City Clerk Marian Governor said the franchise agreement with Mississippi Power is one agreement that requires a special election every 25 years.

Most franchise tax agreements do not require a public vote to renew.  It is as simple as renewing a contract.

Otherwise, Pass Christian would lose a chunk if revenue meant to support services and projects that benefit taxpayers.

“The difference of 1 percent of revenue the City would lose is approximately $85,000 which is more than the value of 1 mil,” Governor said.

Governor said the more people move to Pass Christian and use Mississippi Power, the more revenue the franchise tax raises for the city.

As municipalities grow over the next 25 years, the revenue will increase. She hopes citizens vote to maintain the three percent agreement.

Mississippi Power responded to say they are in support of renewing the franchise agreement but did not advocate for either vote.