State wants unspent $6M back from Coast county

HANCOCK COUNTY — The state has asked Hancock County for $6 million in funds not spent on a “property acquisition” project.

The project is a limited buy-out plan designated to reduce the repetitive losses of residents in low-lying areas of Hancock County.

The Sea Coast Echo reports the county has not spent any of the $10 million it was allotted in 2008.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said the county would keep the other $4 million and could get the $6 million back if there is a need.

“It was obligated money; there wasn’t a check involved. It’s reimbursable,” Flynn said.

Like all the other Hurricane Katrina-related projects, Flynn said county officials must submit the paperwork, MEMA then submits that to FEMA to be reimbursed.

“It isn’t like Hancock County was cut a check for $6 million and MEMA took it back,” he said.

Flynn said that by the board of supervisors’ own estimates, it would need only $4 million for the project.

“Over the last four years … estimates of what they’re going to spend is about four million. We sent them a letter seeking to de-obligate those funds because they didn’t think they were going to need them. There are other projects along the Coast that could use that money,” Flynn said.

Hancock officials, however, want to keep the funds here.

Supervisors said the acquisition project is important to the southwest corner of Hancock County.

Supervisor Steve Seymour said that just because Hancock County hasn’t enacted the program yet doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.

“You know how the bureaucracy of government is,” Seymour said. “There’s so many different game plans, people are jockeying back and forth for money, and MEMA wants to pull the funding.

“It was set up for people that had repetitive flood losses, and then for them to try and pull the money is just not the right thing to do.”

Supervisors said they would meet with MEMA officials to reach an amicable agreement.

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