September 22, 2020 9:51:00 AM
Starkville will receive at least $414,000 in federal relief funds from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to reimburse the city for costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, City Clerk Lesa Hardin said.
A Friday press release from MEMA listed Starkville as one of five cities, in addition to 12 counties, that the agency has approved for reimbursement from Mississippi's share of relief funds via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved by Congress in March.
MEMA received $70 million in CARES Act funds in August from the state Legislature and has obligated more than $6.1 million to counties and cities as of Thursday, according to the press release.
Starkville is eligible for a maximum of $559,000 based on the city's population, according to MEMA documents Hardin provided to The Dispatch. She said the city has sent four applications for reimbursement and has not yet received the promised $414,000.
The city's reimbursed costs include protective face coverings and gloves, paid administrative leave for city employees during March and April, additional camera equipment for the city to conduct virtual job interviews, upgraded software for citizens to sign rental agreements or make credit card payments online and deep-cleaning some city buildings like fire stations, Hardin said.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said the reimbursement gives the city "a strong opportunity to be responsive to the needs of the virtual aspect of keeping us all safe" and alleviates some of the financial strain that the pandemic caused the city via a $1.1 million drop in sales tax revenue.
"Being able to cope with COVID issues is difficult, and this has been a great help to keep us in what I perceive to be a safer environment," Spruill said.
According to the MEMA documents, the towns of Maben and Sturgis are eligible for more than $10,000 and $5,900, respectively, Columbus is eligible for more than $553,000 and West Point is eligible for nearly $265,000 if those municipalities were to apply for reimbursement. The application deadline is Oct. 15, and the deadline for obligation of funds is Nov. 30.
Columbus has applied for reimbursement, city spokesperson Joe Dillon said, and West Point will send its application this week, Mayor Robbie Robinson said.
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