The Hancock County Board of Supervisors on Monday moved forward with seeking a review of the GOMESA regulatory shoreline calculations for Hancock County.

Board president Blaine LaFontaine spoke about the GOMESA formula. He said that Phase II began in 2018.

"Hancock County has a three-part formula that generates our total revenue, which is population; proximity to off shore leases; and an estimated shoreline that has access to an open body of water," he said.

LaFontaine said that he and other officials went to D.C. in March to meet with Congressman Steven Palazzo, Sen. Roger Wicker, and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

"The reason we met with them about the formula was because out of Mobile County, Baldwin County, Harrison County, Jackson County, and Hancock County; Hancock County was the only county that does not receive anything for estimated shoreline, we have a zero there," LaFontaine said.

LaFontaine said that the county has not been receiving revenue for just the shoreline portion of the formula.

LaFontaine added that he believes the county is in a position to file "some type of litigation with the federal government."

"This runs all the way to 2055," he said. "If we don't do it now, in the beginning of Phase II, we're less likely to get back pay or any other compensation. I believe Hancock County, more than anyone, probably has a stronger argument about us having open access to a body of water than probably our other counterparts in other counties."

LaFontaine said that if Hancock County's shoreline portion was added, it could potentially yield anywhere from $400,000 to $500,000 a year.

The board unanimously approved a motion authorizing the county attorney to file appropriate actions to enforce regulatory review of the GOMESA shoreline calculations.

In other action:

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors on Monday heard a presentation from A.G. Crowe about Shop Local USA.

Crowe said he began his venture with the creation of his company called Shop Slidell.

"The idea was to simply bring attention to the fact that people need to begin refocusing on shopping at their local businesses," Crowe said.

Crowe added that smaller "mom and pop businesses" are suffering due to the size of online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.

"If they don't change the ways of doing business and get more and more into the world of the visual, then they're going to be slowing dying and Main Street as we know it will become a thing of the past," Crowe said.

Crowe said that ShopSlidell went "viral" and he started receiving requests from Covington and Mandeville and now Hancock County to do this project.

Crowe said that Shop Local USA representatives are going to shoot drone footage of the municipalities in Hancock County and display them on the website.

"Individual tours, what we call digital tours, are available, but it's not just a map showing the businesses, it's an additional interactive map," Crowe said. "So when you do click on a business, or a church, or a school, or a public building, it goes to the website of that particular entity."

Crowe added that the whole idea behind Shop Local USA is to keep the costs down so that any business can afford to participate.

Crowe said that the ways a business can be involved include: Its name on the rendered and interactive map of Hancock County; a microsite which includes a photo of the business and 10 links or ways to drive business to that particular business; and a 3D virtual tour of the inside of the business.

Through a partnership with Google, "so when somebody is doing a street view of Highway 90 and they see this restaurant, they can click and go on right on inside this restaurant."

"It's basically a huge opportunity for small businesses," he said.

Crowe encouraged the board to "spread the word" about Shop Local USA.

Crowe added that he has already met with local mayors.

Learn more about Shop Local USA at www.shoplocalusa.online.

In a separate matter, the board scheduled a hearing for the FY'20 budget for Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. at the Hancock County Government Annex building, located at 854 Hwy. 90.

County Administrator Eddie Favre said that this year's general fund budget totals about $23.5 million and about $48 million for the total county budget.

There is no expected tax increase on general tax levies or school levies, Favre said.

The budget includes, for the third year in a row, raises for all employees.

The major projects in this year's proposed budget include:

• Countywide drainage program, which includes all municipalities.

• McLeod Park expansion.

• Buccaneer Park.

• Bay St. Louis Pier No. 5.

• Bridge replacements.

• The arena project.

• The ongoing paving project.

The board also scheduled a recessed meeting to adopt the budget on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 8 a.m. at the Hancock County Government Annex building.

• The board approved a motion authorizing county attorney to draft a resolution to accept Turtle Skin Cemetery as a county cemetery.

• The State of the County address is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 12 at 8 a.m. in the Cypress Ballroom at the Hollywood Casino.

• The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 9 a.m.

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