Laurel agency scrutinized after requesting nearly $100,000 for doorbells

Reported by Ontario Richardson

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LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Some national media outlets and Web sites have criticized a Laurel agency for requesting almost $100,000 for new doorbells.

Although the stimulus package being considered by Congress does not specifically include the request, its passage could lead to the program's funding should Governor Barbour approve it.

The Laurel Housing Authority requested the money in 2008, and Director Kay Guy said she had no regrets about it, adding the doorbells are a necessity.

Guy said residents in public housing deserve the same protection and quality of life as every other citizen, and regardless of what anyone thinks, she stands by the request and feels it was well justified.

"Well that was just the estimate that we got from our engineer that gave us the cost to do the doorbells," said Guy. "We've got probably 575 units that need new doorbells because they would be at the back and the front, and the ones that are specifically for the elderly, there will be something on the inside that they can use the doorbells for their security purposes and for emergency purposes ."

Guy said the doorbells will cost about $173 per unit for equipment and installation would create two new jobs. 

The project received attention after being featured on the Web site, where more than a thousand people have casted votes on the doorbell purchase, and 98 percent suggested it was not a critical project.