Lt. Gov. Hosemann updates Pine Belt leaders on relief funding

Lt. Gov. Hosemann updates Pine Belt leaders on relief funding

FORREST COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann visited Pine Belt leaders Wednesday and share updates from the legislature about incoming federal funding.

Hosemann attended the ribbon-cutting for Pearl River Community College’s new medical simulation lab in Forrest County.

In a meeting with local leaders, he answered questions and shared a few of the dollar amounts communities can expect from the $1.8 billion of unallocated funds that will be officially appropriated soon.

Lamar County will be getting $12.8 million. Forrest County will be getting $14.53 million. The city of Hattiesburg can expect $13.61 million.

Hosemann stressed that the funds are a high amount, comparable to an entire yearly state budget. He says the high numbers of federal relief dollars won’t be seen like this again regularly and need to be used carefully and purposefully.

”What we’re going to do now doesn’t need to be for one year or two years, it needs to be for one generation or two generations, and that’s what I was emphasizing,” Hosemann said. “There will be a lot of people who want to do park benches or something, but this is not where we need to go there. We need to be infrastructure, things that will be here for your grandchildren to work on.”

Hosemann explained that there will be a few limitations put on what the money will go towards.

“This is to be used for water, sewer, tourism, those are specific things in the bill,” Hosemann said. “The department of treasury is tasked with writing the regulations. That’s when we will really get what else we can use it for. It is not used for roads and bridges, but the next bill has roads and bridges in it. That’s what we were explaining to the supervisors and the mayors today. If it’s not going to last for 10 or 20 years, don’t do it.”

Local leaders will have three years to spend the relief funds. Some supervisors raised concerns about the timeline being too short.

Hosemann said that is why he is having meetings now to share the expected amounts and ask leader to be prepared.

“There’s going to be a capacity race,” Hosemann said. “Everybody in the country got the money, not just Mississippi. So we’re in a competition to be the best prepared ones when they pull the trigger and start the race.”

He encouraged leaders to use the information from the meeting Wednesday to begin planning their uses for the relief funds. He encouraged investment in infrastructure for broadband, education, water, sewer, tourism, economic buildup and business sectors.

Hosemann said counties and cities can expect to get the relief funding in about three months.

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