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.