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City says complete Initiative funding unlikely’

[9/16/03]Vicksburg officials said Monday they will consider a funding request by the new director of case management at The Initiative Inc., but that it is “unlikely” they will get the amount being sought.

Leah Sullivan, who was tapped for the post after Regina Rankin announced her resignation last month, asked for $75,000 to match grants from the Mississippi Department of Human Services and Entergy.

Sullivan said the Initiative’s apartments, where single parents live while seeking an education and job training, are in need of repair and new appliances. The city provided $8,000 for the program last month, but Sullivan said that was just a temporary, quick fix.

“We’re at that point again,” she said.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said last month the city will fund outside agencies and charities if they come before the board and make a public request for the money. The city set aside $306,011 for all outside agencies in the budget that begins Oct. 1, and Leyens said the $75,000 would not likely be funded in full by the city.

He also asked Sullivan to bring back to the board a plan of work detailing how the money would be spent before any allocation will be made.

“We want the community to be involved line item by line item and to see where the money is going,” Leyens said.

The amount requested by The Initiative would be about 25 percent of all funding for all outside agencies in next year’s budget.

Formed under city auspices in 1992, The Initiative provides a place to live and day care for single parents who want to go back to school. Since its inception, the program has helped 116 families become self-sufficient.

Last month, Rankin, who had been the director of the Initiative for 11 years, announced she would be leaving to take a job at Alcorn State University. She has continued at The Initiative as a consultant and recommended that the city become more involved in the program.

Sullivan, who was formally with WWISCA, was hired this month and will apparently take over after the first of the year. She received praise from the city board members who expressed confidence in her ability to run the facility on Hope Street at Baldwyn Ferry Road.

“They made the right selection with Leah because she has always been about the people,” said North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young.

In other matters the city board:

Entered a maintenance agreement with state Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, and the Vicksburg National Military Park for easements and other items related to a driveway permit for Flaggs’ new home being built on Mission 66.

Authorized a certification of just compensation to make offers to buy two downtown properties under urban renewal.

Accepted a $31,000 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant to fund radar equipment for police cars.

Authorized the city clerk to advertise for sealed bids for the Hancor rail spur project.

Authorized the directors of buildings and inspections to cut and clean overgrown lots.

Declared two badges from the Vicksburg Fire Department surplus and authorized the sale of those badges to two retiring firefighters.

Adopted rezoning property along North Washington Street from light industrial to mixed-use residential.

Approved seven-year tax abatement for Ben Sheely on property at 1115 First East St.

Approved a purchase order for $14,302 to overlay roads at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

The city board will meet again at 10 a.m. Sept. 25 at City Hall Annex.