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City residents to be included in flood buyout

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
April 30, 2004
Lauderdale County supervisors agreed Thursday to include Meridian residents in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to buy out flood-damaged property.
Rusty Gressett of the Lauderdale County Permit Office told supervisors 47 people have shown an interest in the program. A public meeting about the program was held earlier this month.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering 75 percent of the appraised value of property belonging to homeowners who qualify for the program.
The county will pay 100 percent of any closing costs, demolition, appraisal and site restoration. The estimated cost to the county for each property that qualifies is about $7,400.
Whether or not the homeowners will qualify for the program will be determined by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Gressett said.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell warned fellow supervisors that the county is headed toward a tax increase if it does not curb spending.
Boswell said the county had a hard time developing this year's budget without raising taxes and he said it will be hard to do again next year.
Lauderdale County Administrator Rex Hiatt said Meridian has two people certified in asbestos assessment, and that the city indicated it would work with the county.
District 1 Supervisor Eddie Harper, District 2 Supervisor Jimmie Smith, and District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt said the board had already committed to including all Lauderdale County residents. District 4 Supervisor Joe Norwood was not at Thursday's meeting.
Properties that qualify for buyout have to be demolished. The land will belong to the county and will have to be used as wetlands, parks or some other form of open space.
In a recessed regular meeting, supervisors voted not to renew the post office box rental of Chancery Judge Sarah Springer. Supervisors tabled her request for the county to pay the $126 annual fee at its last meeting.
Hiatt told supervisors Springer is the only judge for whom the county pays post office box rental, but he said it has been done for many years, even for a previous chancery judge.
Hiatt said other judges pay their post office box rentals out of their state court allowance.

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