During Monday’s Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors Meeting, Supervisor Joe Williams managed to get $6 million of the ARPA funds designated for the East Oktibbeha Wastewater District Sewer Infrastructure Project. This type of project qualifies for state matching funds. So, by Williams’ leadership, the Wastewater District will now have $12 million for much needed wastewater improvement projects. Williams should be commended for his excellent approach to get funds for a much-needed county project. The vote to use this $6 million was supported by Supervisors Miller and Trainer.
Like two kids fighting over the last piece of candy, Supervisor Montgomery got $1 million for finishing a paving job on a road. This project will NOT qualify for matching funds from the state. Then Supervisor Howard wanted the remaining ARPA funds, $2.6 million for his dam, which does not qualify for matching funds. So, residents when you run into supervisors Montgomery and Howard, thank them for their selfish support for their “pet projects” which will deprive the county from an additional $3.6 million of potential improvements had the money been used on projects that would qualify for matching state funds.
Supervisor Montgomery was quoted saying that he was disappointed in the vote for the wastewater funds. He listed his frustration because he felt that there are needs everywhere in the county for water and sewage improvements. My question for Supervisor Montgomery is, where was his frustration when he voted to dedicate $9.6 million into a fund to be used on Howard’s dam? Unlike what was reported by The Dispatch in their September 20 article, all the supervisors knew the $9.6 million ARPA funds could not be matched if used on the dam. It should be noted, there is some doubt that it is legal to use any of the ARPA funds on the dam.
I was informed that board attorney Rob Robertson instructed the BOS not to discuss the NRCS grant letter during the open meeting. After the meeting he stated the grant would get NRCS to study the “dam.” The truth is the grant letter says to study, “the Trim Cane Watershed project.”
If you step back and take a look at the entire board, the members should care more about making Oktibbeha County a better place for all residents rather than just small pockets in their district. Remember, it is rumored that Mr. Montgomery wants to get promoted to the Oktibbeha County Tax Assessor. If his apparent lack of understanding of leveraging the county’s ARPA funds would have been a much better county-wide decision. He may want to start considering that for a county-wide job, he will need votes from across the county.
George Sills, Starkville
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