Marine resources agency seeks more money

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, which has been under state and federal investigation for its spending practices, is seeking a 4 percent budget increase for the coming year.

And DMR executive director Jamie Miller told lawmakers Wednesday that the agency will cut costs rather than request more money to get through the current budget year.

Fiscal 2014 ends June 30, and fiscal 2015 begins July 1.

Miller appeared Wednesday before the 14-member Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which is holding four days of public hearings this week to consider state agencies’ spending requests. DMR, which is among the smaller state agencies, is requesting nearly $11.2 million for FY15, an increase of $429,497 over the current year.

Miller has led DMR since April, after his predecessor was fired in mid-January. Miller told lawmakers Wednesday that DMR has been beset by “natural and man-made disasters” in recent years and he intends to make it “the most well-managed state agency.”

As they were setting the FY14 budget earlier this year, legislators cut DMR from 183 authorized positions for employees to 147. Miller’s requested increase for FY15 includes funding to restore seven positions.

Sun Herald