Ensure Hurricane Katrina Recovery Funds are Being Used Appropriately

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Target: Harrison County Utility Authority

Goal: Don’t financially burden citizens of Harrison County by misusing Hurricane Katrina recovery funds.

After the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina in 2005, $650 million was set aside for sewage and water projects in Mississippi. In the rush to put the recovery funds to use, mistakes were made that are now burdening taxpayers and landowners. The largest amount of recovery funds were allotted to Harrison County, where the Utility Authority officials have spent tens of millions of dollars on sewage plants that are not being used due to lower than expected population projections. People’s private property has been used to build water tanks and sewage treatment plants that are not being used to hold water or treat sewage. Because the infrastructure plan didn’t provide funding to hook customers up to the water tanks and sewage plants, taxpayers who don’t even use the plants could be charged.

The infrastructure plans made by Harrison County were based on estimates that the population would grow by as much as 76% by 2025. However, the population dropped from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census. Other studies conducted have projected growth to be well under 76% with one estimating 5%. Katrina itself is partly to blame for decreases in the population, something that Harrison County officials should have taken into consideration when making plans with recovery funds. Instead, the utility authority has bought land from private citizens to build sewage facilities that are in close proximity to residences. There are now ongoing legal battles between landowners and the utility authority, which did not put the public interest ahead of its own.

Mississippi officials rushed to use federal money and in the process, caused landowners and taxpayers financial and emotional burdens. Private land is being used for sewage plants that may never be used at full capacity. When they are used, they will be in residential neighborhoods, on what was desirable property.

The Harrison County Utility Authority needs to listen to the landowners who are suing them and the taxpayers who will carry the costs of infrastructure that is either not used or used well below capacity. By signing this petition, you are asking the Harrison County Utility Authority to amend its plan for implementation of Katrina recovery money to reflect current population estimates so it does not adversely affect the citizens of Harrison County.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Harrison County Utility Authority officials,

Hurricane Katrina recovery funds have been misused, placing an unnecessary burden on homeowners and taxpayers. In the rush to put funds to use, mistakes were made that have caused citizens to lose their land, become embroiled in lawsuits, and live next to sewage plants. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on sewage infrastructure that is not being used and may never be used to full capacity due to lower than expected population projections.

It was estimated that the population would grow by as much as 76% by 2025. However, those projections are off track. The population decreased from 2000 to 2010, according the U.S. Census. Other studies conducted have projected growth to be well under 76% with one estimating 5%. Katrina itself is partly to blame for decreases in the population, something that should have been taken into consideration when making plans with recovery funds. With the current population change, the sewage plants under construction will operate anywhere from 1 to 11 percent of capacity at completion.

The rush to use federal money has caused landowners and taxpayers financial and emotional burdens. Private land is being used for sewage plants that may never be used at full capacity. When they are used, they will be in residential neighborhoods, on what was desirable property. Please amend your plan for implementation of Katrina recovery money to reflect current population estimates so as not to adversely affect the citizens of Harrison County.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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64 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Holly Hall
  • Jutta Taraniuk
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