Lowndes County officials received $11.4 million to help make improvements to the county
Counties across the United States are receiving money from the Federal Government
LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Counties across the United States are receiving money from the Federal Government through the American Rescue Plan Act. For Lowndes County, the goal is to use the money wisely and make improvements where county leaders see fit. A pot of roughly $65 billion dollars was distributed in different chunks to each county in the United States.
On October 4, 2021, the board of supervisors will meet at the Lowndes County courthouse to determine how to use the $11.4 million the county received through the A-R-P-A. Lowndes County officials are in the process of trying to figure out what the money can be used for so they’re bringing in consultants to get expert advice.
“In order to be able to make sure we get the wisest use of that money we’re looking into some people that specialize in advising us on what is proper and what is not proper and how we should get the most bang for our money,” said county administrator Jay Fisher.
Fisher said the county has until December of 2024 to decide how they’ll use the money and December of 2026 to spend it.
The U.S treasury department gave some guidance to counties with a 150-page interim final rule; pinpointing some of the things they want to see the money used for.
“They called out sewer and water projects and broadband expansion and then others of them are very vague.. how are you going to respond to the medical aspects of COVID-19 and how are you going to mitigate that going forward,” said Fisher.
Four consultants will come to Lowndes County and present how they feel the money will be used and the board will pick one to represent them.
“The supervisors then will have to come up with a plan. I assume that will take public input, it will take our needs as a county into account, and then they’ll probably make a prioritization of how they need to use the money,” said Fisher.
District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks felt that a consultant and other board members should talk about issues well past the city limits.
“When you come into Columbus I call that the front door. It looks good you got a nice soccer field and some other things, but when you get down in the heart of the community you see things that have not been taken care of over the years and a host of things so it just needs to be some conversation on whether we can address these things,” said Brooks.
Brooks said using the money for broadband and sewer isn’t a problem, but he wants to see it benefit those that are sometimes overlooked.
“How do we impact the poorer community, you know what I’m saying, I’m not against anything, but I certainly want us to look at the money in totality that when it’s all spent that it’s spent legally, but then it addresses the issue of housing, health disparity and those are things that disproportionately affect minorities,” said Brooks.
After a consultant is chosen and the board finalizes how they want to use the money; the ball will begin rolling for county improvements.