‘I was pretty upset’: Hinds Co. misses first deadline to get $17M for water infrastructure work

Hinds Co. Board of Supervisors President Credell Calhoun speaks to WLBT previously.
Hinds Co. Board of Supervisors President Credell Calhoun speaks to WLBT previously.(WLBT)
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 4:45 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Editor’s note: County Administrator Kenny Wayne Jones said Hinds County decided to submit the application in the spring and did not miss the deadline.

A Hinds County supervisor says he’s looking into why the county missed its deadline to apply for millions of dollars in matching funds that could have helped address water needs in South Jackson.

Documents obtained by WLBT showed the county did not submit an application to the Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure (MCWI) Grant Program by the September 30 deadline.

“They didn’t get it in on time,” said Board President Credell Calhoun. “We’re still looking into why they didn’t.”

Calhoun said attorneys with Mike Espy PLLC were responsible for submitting the application. The board awarded the firm a $250,000 contract this summer to provide “professional, legal and technical guidance regarding the management of American Rescue Plan funds.”

He said the county will reapply during the second round, which is slated to open up in the spring of 2023. A third round could open after that, depending on the availability of funding, MDEQ documents state.

MCWI provides matching funds for American Rescue Plan Act money local governments use on qualified infrastructure projects, such as water and sewer line replacements, and drainage work.

Lawmakers established the program during the 2022 session and set aside $450 million of its own ARPA money to provide the matches. Preliminary figures provided to WLBT show that 429 cities and counties applied, seeking around $435 million in grants.

The city of Jackson applied for around $35 million in grants in large part, to pay for work at its O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant.

S.B. 2822, the legislation that created the grant program, limits the amount of money that can be awarded during the first round to $180 million.

The county allocated $17 million of its $45 million of ARPA funding to the city to replace water distribution lines in South Jackson ($6 million) and to build a water storage tank and other infrastructure to serve a new jail planned for McDowell Road ($11 million), also in South Jackson.

The decision was made to help the city amid its August/September water crisis, after equipment failures at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant left tens of thousands of people without water.

Residents in South Jackson were among the hardest hit by the crisis, being located farthest from the plant.

Had the county’s application been approved, the county would have received another $17 million, which it also could have used for infrastructure work.

“I was pretty upset about it,” Calhoun said. “We were trying to get it in and we weren’t timely on it.”

Espy was not immediately available for comment.

See a list of all MCWI grant applicants below:

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