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Critically Needed Grants to Help Struggling Communities On Coast On the Way

By Keith Burton - GCN      Filed 9/14/06    Updated 9/15/06

Some Coast cities that suffered severe losses from Katrina are getting some badly needed help in operating expenses. Since Katrina, cities such as Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian and others have been struggling to keep the lights on and pay operating expenses. For some time, GCN has been noting that much of the federal help has not provided these communities with the operating cash for day-to-day operations. In some cases, communities have been appealing to the public for assistance.

With the new budget year beginning in October, these cities and some others, including Long Beach, Moss Point and even Hancock County, are nearly broke. Thursday, Governor Haley Barbour and the State Bond Commission approved grants that will assist local governments in providing essential services on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

 Without the money, and it is needed immediately, these communities would have to cut services and personnel they need to operate.

The grants are being provided through the Emergency Aid to Local Governments Loan and Grant Program and is made available to governmental entities that have demonstrated  projected revenue losses that are equal to or exceeds 25 percent of their revenue.

"These grants come at a time when the hardest hit governments by Hurricane Katrina could face severe cuts in services to its citizens," Governor Barbour said in a news release.  "It's important to note that these are grants and not loans, so the local governments do not have to repay the funds," Barbour continued.  

It's important that the cities do not have to repay the money. They are already in difficult financial condition and repayment would be hard for them to do. The cities are also needing additional money to pay for federal grants where a five to ten percent local match must be found. But this latest grant money will help.

The governments receiving grants approved Thursday by Governor Barbour and the State Bond Commission include:

Bay St. Louis - $3 million
Hancock County - $3 million
Waveland - $3 million
Moss Point - $3 million
Long Beach - $3 million
Pass Christian $2,455,506
Total - $17,455,506

Funding for the LEAP grants is made possible through the issuance of Gulf Tax Credit Bonds as authorized by the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 and interest and earnings on the Hurricane Disaster Reserve Fund.  The Coast cities involved should receive their grants sometime today.

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