County looks at home payments

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015

EMPTY HOME: A house sits condemned on South Loftin Ave. Photo by Jesse Wright.

EMPTY HOME: A house sits condemned on South Loftin Ave. Photo by Jesse Wright.

Monday, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors discussed financial concerns over assisting homeowners of flood-damaged homes.

There are currently seven properties—five in Picayune and two outside the city limits, which are prone to flood damage, said Adrain Lumpkin, county administrator. After the flood resulting from Hurricane Isaac in 2012 damaged the homes, city and county officials entered into a FEMA hazard mitigation grant agreement to assist affected residents, but nothing has resulted from it yet.

Lumpkin said he recently spoke with officials from the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District to learn about the options the county has to assist those homeowners, under the federal hazard mitigation grant, without costing the county money. However, the cost to buy out those homes doesn’t fit the county’s budget, Lumpkin said.

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“I’ve failed to find any way at this point in time other than the county coming up with the 25 percent match,” Lumpkin said.

Under the grant, the county is required to pay around $300,000 to buy out those homes. The county must pay 25 percent of the appraised values of each home.

All board members agreed that the county doesn’t have money in the budget to buy out those homes.

“I’d love to help everyone of you. But it’s going to end up costing us several hundred thousands of dollars that we don’t have. Personally, I’m not willing to pay 25 percent of their appraised value. I think we should spend the money in other ways,” District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry said.

The board heard from a couple that owns one of the flood-prone homes in the city, located at 110 S. Loftin Ave. The couple currently lives at their daughter’s home after their home was condemned since it’s considered to be located in a repeated flood area. Their home was insured through State Farm, but since they’re home was condemned, they were told that FEMA would pay 75 percent to buy out the home, but the county has to match 25 percent of that.

The board agreed not to cancel the hazard mitigation grant until they speak with officials from the city of Picayune to determine whether the city can assist those homeowners through the grant.

Also at the meeting, the board heard from County Engineer Les Dungan who spoke about the bridge repair project on Gumpond Beall Road in Lumberton. The road is currently closed and advisory signs were placed in the area alerting motorists about the closure. Dungan expects the project to be complete in six to eight weeks.

Dungan also gave an update on the condition of the county’s three safe rooms. Currently, there are three safe rooms, which are located at 501 Laurel St. in Picayune, on Highway 11 North in Carriere and in Poplarville at the Highway 11 and Highway 26 intersection behind the EOC building.

Dungan said they’ve improved several features at each shelter, including the air conditioner system. Currently, they’re working to set up an Internet connection at the safe room in Carriere.

“Our initial thought was to hook all three up with an Internet connection but there were problems with expenses,” Dungan said.

He also said the county is working to fix a faulty fire alarm and cracks found on some of the pre-cast units at the safe room in Poplarville.

Later, the board discussed regulating garbage trucks. Earlier this year, the board addressed the topic after receiving complaints from residents in regard to overloaded garbage trucks dropping garbage on the streets.

Under the state statute, Lumpkin said that garbage trucks must be secured properly to prevent garbage from falling out.

The board agreed to speak to officials from Waste Management in a public forum in order to discuss the options available.

In other news:

—The board approved travel for the fire service coordinator to attend combat challenge in Montgomery, Alabama from Oct. 19 to 23.

—The board approved travel for the deputy tax assessor to attend the 2015 IAAO workshop in Vicksburg from Oct. 21 to 23.

—The board approved travel for employees within Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department to attend a tactical handgun in service training in Wiggins from October 7 to 15, travel to attend the polygraph course graduation in Fort Myers, Florida from March 17 to 19 and travel to attend the 2015 Winter Conference in Biloxi from Dec. 7 to 11.

The next board meeting will be Oct. 26 at 9 a.m. inside the court facilities in Poplarville.