Lee County towns lean on grants

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Whether it’s water systems in Verona and Shannon or police salaries in Saltillo, grants are playing major roles in helping smaller municipalities stay within their tight budgets.
Even though 2010 is expected to be a financially difficult year for many towns, work still has to be done and people still have to be paid. With budgets already set and no room for extras, Shannon Mayor Ronnie Hallmark said grants will help.
“To say money is tight is an understatement at this time,” said Hallmark. “We are in tough economic times, but we don’t want our citizens to suffer because of it. So we are leaning heavily on grants this year in hopes that we can get some much-needed work done without having to tap into our budgets.”
Hallmark said he hopes Shannon is approved for a Community Development Block grant it applied for so the town’s sewer lagoons can be repaired.
Verona Mayor Bobby Williams said his town already has been approved for a $450,000 CDBG grant and is the process of upgrading the water system.
“This grant was the only way we could have gotten this sewer work done,” said Williams. “We applied for others but didn’t get them, but we are happy that we did get some help.”
In Saltillo, Mayor Bill Williams is still awaiting word on whether his town will receive a $40,000 grant to pay the salary for a position in the police department.
Saltillo has received the grant the previous three years. Williams said if they don’t get the grant, the town will have to make up for the shortfall in funds.
Bill Williams said the Saltillo Fire Department has applied for several small grants to help with equipment purchases as well.
“These grants are more in the $1,000 range but they are very helpful to our town,” he said. “Any dime that doesn’t have to come out of our budget is a help.”
Mayors in Guntown, Plantersville and Nettleton were unable to be reached for comment.