He says the $200M is a “Bennie Thompson figure” in absence of a plan from the city.
Last week, Mississippi 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson told Politico that he would like the city of Jackson to remain the owner of its struggling water system but says the question is whether or not the city has the capacity to operate and maintain the system.
Thompson said that inability to maintain the system “pretty much” got them in the fix the city is in now.
That question is on everyone’s minds following the city’s failure that resulted in the state having to intervene in the municipal operations over public health and safety.
Congressman Thompson went on to say that he is looking for federal appropriations to help the city’s water system, talking with House appropriators and the White House about designating funds through the continuing resolution being drafted for lawmakers to consider.
He says some have speculated that the city needs a billion dollars but “in absence of a plan” Thompson is seeking $200 million.
“In absence of a plan, you know, this is kinda what appears to be reasonable, but I can’t say for sure because I hear a billion dollars and this can just be phase one,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he’s looking at the initial funding and then subsequent funding since it is a large problem that cannot be solved all at once.
“I’m doing what 80% of the people in Jackson from a conversation standpoint tell me they need. So, again, the $200 [million] is a Bennie Thompson figure and we go forward with that,” Thompson said.
Y’all Politics reported last week that the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) had only spent $191,530.82 as of September 15th on the equipment and repair costs to fix the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility in Jackson since the state of Mississippi declared a state of emergency and assumed control of the operations on August 30.
MEMA also stated that increased onsite and outside labor and contracting costs to effect repairs and deferred maintenance during that period totaled $1,158,297.26.
READ MORE: MEMA: Only $191,000 in equipment costs needed to get Jackson’s main water plant back online
According to Politico, documents they have obtained show draft language for the continuing resolution that would send the federal money directly from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the city of Jackson, “bypassing the Republican-controlled state government.” As Politico points out, Democrats, including Thompson, “have accused the state of withholding resources from the majority Black state capital.”
When asked about this, Thompson told Politico that he was the only member of the Mississippi delegation who voted for the American Rescue Plan Act which sent money to states. He claims that Jackson was subject to a second level of scrutiny than other cities in the state when being considered for these funds.