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Jackson may have to repay $519K in federal grants

Jackson may have to repay about $519,000 in federal law enforcement grants because U.S. Justice Department records show some of the money was spent after the two-year window when the city was supposed to use it.

Some of the grants date back to 1998. Some of the money was never spent, and internal auditors are seeking details on what happened to other money.

Earlier this month, the city council approved repayment of a $284,969 grant. The check has been written, but the city is hoping Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., can help it keep the money, said Rick Hill, director of administration.

“The (repayment) money will come from the reserve funds,” Hill said.

Assistant chief administrative officer and city auditor Valerie Nevels said city auditors are investigating the circumstances surrounding grants of $205,949 and $29,000 that might have to be repaid.

Removing money from the reserve is also a concern after the council’s vote last week to take $3 million from the reserve fund to erase a deficit for the budget year that ended Sunday. That left the reserve at $4.5 million, a level that leaves some council members uncomfortable.

“We’re hoping that since the $205,000 was advanced, that money is still sitting in an account someplace,” Nevels said. “We’re still researching that because we’re hoping the person who filed the report made an error. I find it hard to believe that we wouldn’t have spent the (money on) overtime. What generated us having to pay this back was the city’s own report.”

Nevels said a complete audit of city finances had not been made in several years.