Flaggs says Vicksburg waiting on infrastructure money before planning improvements
Published 10:23 am Monday, November 15, 2021
The state of Mississippi is expected to get about $4 billion in federal infrastructure money, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, and the city officials have already given state and federal officials their wish list.
According to CNN, Congress on Nov. 7 passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that will deliver $550 billion of new federal investment in America’s infrastructure over five years, touching everything from bridges and roads to the nation’s broadband, water and energy systems.
“Anticipating that they (Congress) were going to pass an infrastructure bill at some point in time, I already pursued money for the city of Vicksburg through working with U.S. Sen. (Roger) Wicker, U.S. Sen (Cindy) Hyde-Smith and Congressman Bennie Thompson,” Flaggs said. “I think they know the needs in our city.”
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He also met with Gov. Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, he said, because most of the federal money coming to Mississippi will be allocated by the legislature.
“We are hoping to get money for our $6 million water study, which will help us with the clarifier (at the water treatment plant) and a new water tank south of town, and creating from about 11 million to 21 million gallons of water a day — and if we’re going to grow this town, we’re going to need it,” Flaggs said.
“The tank will allow us to have more storage capacity in case we develop a port and for new residents who want to get on the system.”
Plans for the water system also include a GIS system to help city workers locate leaks and other problems in the water system.
Other projects include a paving program and the proposed new port for the city, the city’s proposed animal shelter and improvements to the Vicksburg Municipal Airport.
Flaggs said the city has pledged $3 million for the port project, pending approval of a $25 million federal grant and pledged $300,000 a year for 10 years to MCITy, a technology center to be located in the former Mississippi Hardware Building.
The board in October approved an $11 million capital improvement bond issue to handle some of the proposed capital projects but Flaggs said he is not ready to spend that money “until we find out how much money we’ll get — total — in infrastructure from the state and the federal government.”
In the meantime, he said, city officials will be looking for ways to consolidate city funds that have not been earmarked for projects to get the best use of the infrastructure money.
He said he plans to meet with accounting director Doug Whittington, City Attorney Nancy Thomas and Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman to determine how much money the city has in unobligated funds and money obligated toward projects.
“What we’re trying to do is maximize our resources that have been given from the federal and state sources along with the $11 million to the maximum we can get so we can provide the best possible service to the taxpayers at the least amount of cost.”
Besides the $11 million in bond funds, Flaggs said the city has about $2 million in ARPA money that can be used for capital improvements.
“We have not allocated and don’t intend to allocate any of it — other than the project on Indiana Ave.,” he said. The city extended water and sewer lines along Indiana to serve a new housing development.
Presently, Flaggs said, city officials are “protecting” the unallocated money — trying to keep from spending it.
“We anticipate the (state) infrastructure bill passing,” he said, adding, he talked to state officials and members of the state’s congressional delegation about the city’s needs “a long time ago. They have all our programs at hand.”