Jones County supervisors discuss ARPA money allocations

JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) – The Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting brought all attendees together this morning, July 18, with residents expressing concerns about how the board is allocating money from the American Rescue Plan Act ( ARPA).

The council received $13.2 million from the federal government for COVID relief. They were allowed to claim $10 million in lost revenue, and the remaining $5 million is to be split among the county’s five counties for infrastructure improvements.

Executive Director and Board Counsel Danielle Ashley said today’s meeting was about the second allocation of ARPA money.

“Five million dollars of this money can be used for legal purposes determined by the board, so they expressed concern about how the money was allocated,” Ashley said.

The remaining $5 million was originally to be divided according to the number of miles of county roads per beat. However, this plan left less funds for the Beat 1 and Beat 5 communities.

“It looks, it sounds, and from the numbers it just doesn’t seem right,” Beat 5 supervisor Travares Comegys said.

Comegys said that due to citizen concerns, it has advised the board of a possible injunction filing if this discrepancy is not resolved.

“The notice pretty much just says to our board, it tells anyone who wants to know, that you can’t do this with federal dollars,” Comegys said. “They need to be evenly distributed.”

Comegys said the potential injunction cites a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin for programs and activities benefiting from federal financial assistance.

“The only way I can fix the situation, or any other area that I support, (is with the funding that is) needed to support those areas, and that’s why our federal government sent this money to help us. in times like this. “said Comegys. “And so for beat 5, to only receive 2% is almost criminal.”

For now, the board has deposited the federal relief money until the next meeting on August 1.

However, Comegys said it hoped the injunction would not have to be filed. “The hope is, and what I think should happen is that (the council goes back) to the drawing board,” Comegys said. “There are definitely ways to agree on a resolution on this, and it’s pretty simple. The way the math is simple. We got $5 million and we got five beats, so the calculations are simple.

The next meeting will be in Laurel on August 1st.

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James V. Hayes