Counties and cities are asking for relief dollars to meet immediate and future needs
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Christopher Bowen is with the Miss. Assoc. of Supervisors.
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County and city officials met with Mississippi senators Tuesday in a joint committee hearing to discuss unexpected expenses incurred by local governments due to the coronavirus.

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Mississippi received $1.25 billion in federal relief from the CARES Act, which provides for payments to state, local, and tribal governments navigating the impact of COVID-19. Payments from the federal relief fund can only be used to cover unbudgeted expenses directly related to the outbreak - and there are many.

Christopher Bowen is president of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. He described counties' immediate needs.

“They range from the obvious of disinfectants, hand sanitizers, professional cleaning services and personal protective equipment to the countless hours of overtime, hazard pay, legal expenses, technology upgrades at courthouses,” said Bowen.

Shari Veazey with the Mississippi Municipal League told lawmakers first responder overtime is going to be a major expense, especially in larger cities, as they try to enforce social distancing in public places.

She told Sen. David Jordan (D) of Greenwood she’s concerned about putting a number on future needs in case this request falls short.

“I guess we have to look at the worst case scenario,” said Veazey.

“We don’t know it, do we,” asked David Jordan.

“That’s what I think our cities are doing,” said Veazey. “Trying to prepare for this to drag out for several more months. But we will try to come up with a figure but it’s going to be difficult.”

Legislative leaders said some of the funding available must go to reimburse the significant expenses already incurred by local governments and other amounts can go toward planning for Mississippi’s future needs.