Jackson's summer jobs program suspended over federal compliance - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Crisler: Jackson's summer jobs program suspended over "federal compliance" issue

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Nearly 40 students will have to wait until at least next week to find out if they'll be able to work for the city of Jackson this summer. Jackson Chief Administrative Officer Marshand Crisler says they suspended the summer jobs program so they could get the paperwork in line with federal law.

Crisler told 3 On Your Side that the city had to rely on external funds -- two grants -- for the summer jobs program instead of money from the city because of last year's budget cuts.

One of those grants from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, funded 13 students, but was pulled by the state agency after the Legislature reduced MDOT's budget.

The other one, which Crisler said comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the form of a Community Development Block Grant, will supply funding for 38 student workers.

However, Crisler said the city needed to reevaluate all of those workers to ensure the qualifications met standards set forth by HUD to make sure they're following the law.

"We regret any inconvenience that this may cause to parents and the student workers, too. We just want to make sure that we are in strict compliance with the federal HUD/CDBG funds," said Crisler.

Crisler said the city wants to be cautious where HUD's concerned because of past issues.

In 2014, 3 On Your Side reported that HUD suspended the Jackson Redevelopment Authority from being able to participate in any HUD-related projects.

Those sanctions were lifted last year, however.

Crisler said the summer jobs suspension doesn't affect students who work in the private sector. Still, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said he's frustrated with the downsizing of Jackson's summer jobs program from nearly 300 students to almost 40.

"In these poor neighborhoods, those dope boys are recruiting, so if we can keep them working in the city of Jackson on those kinds of jobs, we can keep them away from dope boys," said Stokes.

Stokes remains disappointed about the decision to suspend those remaining positions because of questions the city has about compliance with federal law.

"We tried to tell members of the council that these young people deserve and need summer jobs. It builds character," the councilman said.

Stokes was one of three council members who voted against the 2016-17 budget, in part, because of its severe cuts to the summer jobs program, and because he believed the city had the money to spare.

In fact, Stokes said Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber's announcement in April of a nearly $7 million surplus in the city's coffers only confirmed what the Ward 3 councilman already thought.

"We should have left the money in the budget," added Stokes. "The fund balance would have been enough to make sure these young people had jobs during the summer months." 

Now he's concerned what those nearly 300 students will do for the rest of the summer.

"It's a bad feeling, that here you've started to work, and then they stop you from work. It's as though you've been fired," said Stokes.

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