LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. - The Lamar County Board of Supervisors denied a handful of utility assistance requests. In the last three weeks the board has seen 24 utility requests, and officials say it is very unusual.
District 4 Supervisor, Philip Carlisle said, "I do not think we have ever seen more than three in one agenda."
He added, "There were so many we put them on a spreadsheet."
He said it is possible a previous request was approved, and that person spread the idea of the county paying bills.
"They went back and started talking" said Carlisle. The county said they are happy to help individuals with their bills, but they need to meet certain requirements.
A person must be a citizen of Lamar county and have little to no income under the Mississippi Pauper Oath.
County Administrator Jody Waits said, "State law says to them they have to be paupers, they have absolutely no means of supporting themselves, and basically depend on welfare to help them out."
Paupers can receive up to $100 once a year by the county. Officials said the stack of requests did not provide sufficient information.
Waits said, "90% of the 24 requests, were not answered properly, some information was left blank."
The board of supervisors will add extra steps for utility assistance requests, Carlisle said the former process was out-dated.
Wait said, "There is information out there about what the program is about, they should review the process and actually streamline the application process, so those who truly need it, can actually get help."
"We have to make sure that when we give tax payer money out that all our questions have been answered, and they have been answered thoroughly" added Carlisle.
The department said utility assistance requests should be used as a last resort in paying bills.
The county advises to look into other resources, such as, Mississippi Low-Income program, churches, the Red Cross, and even contact their utility service provider.
The board hopes to see a new process implemented within the next 30 days said Carlisle.