Millions of dollars in BP Oil Spill settlement money earmarked to fund projects in South Mississippi could soon be heading to the Coast.
Now that the state House and Senate have given their finalized lists of projects to receive restore funds, the bill only needs the governor’s signature for the appropriations to be finalized.
It’s back to the drawing board, or at least a time to revamp some projects pitched in South Mississippi to reel in some of the nearly $86 million in Restore Act funds from the BP Oil Spill settlement available to be allocated this year now that the state lawmakers have determined what projects made the cut for this year’s round of funding. Gulf Coast Restoration Advisory Board Executive Director and Chairman Ashley Edwards said, “They passed their appropriations bill last week and identified several projects that will receive funding.”
Edwards and others were appointed last year by the state’s governor to serve on the advisory board to review proposed projects in South Mississippi and recommend those best suited overall for our area. They did just that, narrowing down the initial 119 applications to 14 they sent to the legislature for approval. “The Advisory Board had a very thorough process. I think all the members of the Advisory Board were very happy with the level of review that occurred. The good projects were really clear. They floated to the top.”
A number of projects the board recommended did not make the cut. One of them is funding to help build a 60,000 square foot YMCA in Gulfport. It’s up to state lawmakers to decide just where the Restore Act funds will go each year. “I think most of the members of the Advisory Board were disappointed to see that so many projects were funded that we did not vet and did not refute.”
For now, Edwards and other members of the advisory board are looking ahead to the next round of funding and applications for 2021 funding are now being accepted online for review. They’re also hoping their recommendations will hold more water next time around.