Itta Bena officials reported Tuesday that an error had been made regarding spending of grant money earmarked for the city’s streets, but that the situation is now under control.
At a meeting of the Itta Bena Board of Aldermen, former Mayor Thelma Collins said she had heard from a knowledgeable source that $150,000 from a $250,000 grant for the streets had been used to pay the city’s utility bills.
She said she was speaking only as a citizen who is concerned about the streets and wanted to make sure the money wasn’t being illegally diverted.
Mayor J.D. Brasel said grant money usually comes to the city in a mailed check, and a new account is then created to help track the money. In this case, he said, the money was deposited directly into the city’s general fund, and some checks were written against it.
City Clerk Edna Beverly said she didn’t know the money had gone directly into the general fund until she saw it listed in a bank statement. By then, she had already written checks.
When she found out, she said, she contacted Brasel, and they called “the people that needed to be contacted” and were given instructions, she said.
Beverly said she sent a letter explaining what had happened, furnished a bank statement, and opened an account for the grant money. The city also was given time to square up the funds.
nMaurice Mosley from the utilities department said some residents’ utilities had been cut off even though they had paid their bills. He said this has happened repeatedly, but Beverly said that this was the first she had heard about it. If a person has paid and a receipt has been generated, the person’s name should automatically move off the cutoff list, and “if that’s not happening, there's a glitch somewhere,” Beverly said.
She said the city and utilities department need to get together and make sure the names on the cutoff list are correct before services are disconnected.
nDr. Brandy Davis, who lives on Schley Street, spoke to the board about her utility bills. She said they were consistently over $600 and sometimes as high as $1,000 when the city has read her meters, but when a representative of the Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi took readings, the numbers were much lower.
She said she had had her house rewired and taken other steps and still receives high bills. She said the rates have been inconsistent and asked that the city notify residents when they go up. Brasel said the city would send Mosley to check on the house, as it has done in the past.
•Contact David Monroe at 581-7236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.