Millions in COVID cash coming
Neshoba County will receive $5.6 million and the city of Philadelphia $1.6 million in the federal government’s $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Act passed last month by Congress to help local governments recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Neshoba County officials said they are awaiting further guidelines from the United States Department of the Treasury on allowable uses for the monies before proceeding with a spending plan.
“They haven’t published any guidelines for the use of that other than what is in the actual legislation,” said Jeff Mayo, Neshoba County Administrator. “All of that is going to have to be determined before the uses can be determined on how we are going to be eligible to use it.”
Mayor James Young said the city also is awaiting guidelines but did say the funds will be a much-needed shot in the arm to the city.
“We will be able to do something street-wise and police-wise,” Young said, adding the city will not make solid plans until the guidelines come through and the funding is in hand.
Mississippi will receive approximately $6 billion in total from the rescue act, which is equal to the state budget.
The funding will be distributed as follows, according to Mississippi Today:
• $429 million for higher education;
• $166 million for capital projects for rural broadband access project;
• $577 million for counties;
• $258 million for smaller cities;
• $97 million for metro cities;
• $1.8 billion to be appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature over the next three years primarily to replace revenue lost because of the pandemic for COVID-19-related costs; and
• $1.6 billion for K-12 education, primarily to be disbursed to local school districts.
Mayo said Neshoba County would use the money to recoup costs associated with the county’s COVID-19 response efforts and some allowable infrastructure spending.
“The board did publish a request for proposals on broadband services for the underserved and unserved areas of the county in establishing broadband,” Mayo said. “They authorized a request for proposals (Monday) in that regard to look at the assessment and feasibility of deploying broadband to those areas of the jurisdiction but beyond that no determination has been made as to the uses of the funds.”
Mayo said the first disbursement will be half of the allotted money this year and a half next year. The first disbursement will not be until after the guidelines are determined, which he hopes will be within 60-days of the legislation’s passing on March 11.
“We hope within the next 30 to 45 days,” Mayo said.