Picayune hopes to benefit from stimulus package

Published 1:08 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Just because there is talk of an economic stimulus package does not mean the City of Picayune will get any of the money it needs.

City officials met with Congressman Gene Taylor Monday afternoon to present him with a preliminary list of things for which they say the city needs funding, most centered around infrastructure needs.

One such project involves phase three to the resurfacing work to Memorial Boulevard. Jeffery Lee with Neal Schaffer said there will need to be an additional $1.5 million to conduct that phase, which will repave Memorial Boulevard all the way to where the Mississippi Department of Transportation begins maintaining the road.

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The city’s water and sewer infrastructure also is in a severe state of disrepair. Since the Utility Authority has taken over the sewer service, that entity will fix that system, but the city will need help getting the water system up to par, said Council member Jerry Bounds.

A packet of information was provided to Taylor at the meeting and in it were proposals for the construction of the Amtrak platform for the Intermodal Center. There also was a request for $7 million to pay for infrastructure to the new hospital, which includes water, sewer, gas and also work to compensate for expected increase in traffic.

Another request was submitted to help with physical improvements to the school system. Lastly, there was a request for funds to help build a new water well and storage tank near Wal-Mart.

Lee also said money will be needed to help widen Mississippi Highway 43 South. to five lanes from Home Depot to the intersection of Caesar Road.

Council member Leavern Guy brought up the long awaited widening of U.S. 11 through Picayune.

Taylor would not promise that any of the requests presented by the council and mayor would be funded, especially since President-elect Barack Obama is “playing his cards close to his chest” on what the package will contain. Taylor told the city officials that there will be a number of requests submitted and there will be a priority system to determine who gets what in the way of funds. However, on the road repair requests, Taylor said he will sit down with Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown to see what he will be willing to do before Taylor moves forward with those requests.

Lee asked if that priority system would be based off of population or by some other means. In the past those decisions were based on population, Taylor said.

“There will be some human intent to measure hurt, and we all know that’s way imperfect,” Taylor said.

With the upcoming change in administrations, it will be at least four months before any reliable information will be available. Taylor said Obama still has about 5,000 appointments to make after taking office and those appointments will be the ones that sign the contracts associated with each city’s requests.