Meridian Star

Local News

May 7, 2014

City to meet Friday to discuss grant

MERIDIAN —     A grant application that's been on the fast-track to meet a deadline hit the brakes Tuesday when some city officials said they weren't yet ready to commit funding to a proposed city-county partnership.

    County supervisors decided in mid-April to apply for a $600,000 grant to help fund construction of a building that would house, among other community activities, Boys and Girls Club programs. It requires a 100 percent match, bringing the total dollars to the project to $1.2 million. Some commitments could be done through in-kind services as well.

    East Central Planning and Development District officials are working to meet a May 16 deadline to have the grant application submitted, but need a financial commitment from the city before making the application. Ward 2 Councilman Dustin Markham said to his fellow council members on Tuesday that he believes in the necessity of the project.

    "That community is begging for us to help them," said Markham, adding that he has never made any secret about the fact that he wants to invest in programs for the city's East End.

    "It gives those kids something to do after school," Markham said. "Instead of sitting at home thinking about what they can do to get in trouble."

    Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas had said earlier in the meeting that he was being asked to decide on something that the council had not discussed before. He also noted that because half of the county's taxes come from city residents, the city was already paying for part of the project.

    Mayor Percy Bland, along with Ricky Hood, executive director of the East Mississippi Boys and Girls Club, and Ron Turner, executive director of the Meridian Housing Authority all spoke to the Meridian City Council about the need for the project.

    Ward 5 Councilman Randy Hammon and Ward 3 Councilwoman Barbara Henson both expressed misgivings about committing money to the project at this time.

    "I don't think it's right to put the council in this position. We need a work session. It's not right the way it was done," Hammon said.

    Work sessions are meetings in which council members can talk about issues and get more information, but they cannot vote on anything.

    Ward 4 Councilwoman Kim Houston said she too would like to have a work session about the matter.     However, instead of scheduling a work session about the grant application, the council decided to recess its Tuesday meeting until Friday morning at 8. That way, if they decide to go forward with the grant application, they can vote on it then and there.

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