Hancock County Judge Trent Favre on Monday morning swore in the county’s newest elected officials.

Hancock County Board Attorney Gary Yarborough on Monday gave an update on the financial status of Gulf Coast Mental Health.

In July 2019, the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center Board of Commissioners announced that the center would not have "funding to provide services beyond Aug. 11."

GCMHC provides mental health services in Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River, and Stone counties. Satellite offices are located in each county and the counties' respective boards of supervisors appoint one member each to the Region XIII Commission, which serves as the board of directors, the GCMH website states.

The Hancock County satellite office is located at 819-B Central Ave. in Bay St. Louis.

GCMH receives financial support through "federal block grants, Medicaid reimbursements, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, county taxes, contractual agreements, fees for services, and contributions, both direct and throughout the United Way," the website states.

Last year, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health advanced $1.5 million or 50 percent of its annual allocation to agency from its 2020 budget and participating counties followed suit.

Yarborough said at a special board meeting in July 2019 that GCMH operates on an almost $12 million annual budget and that the advance payments from the participating entities would keep GCMH in operation for about three months.

At that July special meeting, the board voted to advance 50 percent –– or $110,000 of the county's FY 2020 budget allocation –– to GCMH.

Yarborough said Monday that since the advancement, Memorial has helped with GCMH's billing.

"They had a huge billing problem and had about 12 months that went uncollected," Yarborough said. "So we've been monitoring them and the last report we had in December was that they were turning it around and had about $800,000 balance."

However, Yarborough said that on Friday he received a call from Kyle Lewis, the county's representative on the GCMH board.

"They had anticipated a $400,000 grant coming soon, they thought it was coming at the end of December," Yarborough said. "It did not come. They have a payroll right now on Jan. 15. In the instance that they do not get that $400,000 grant money, they can't make the payroll."

Yarborough said he has been in discussions with Harrison County and the state.

Yarborough also added that GCMH anticipates "liquidity problems again in March."

In addition to the 50 percent advance, Hancock County has also been providing the prorated portion of the remaining allotment, which is about $20,000 per month, beginning Oct. 1,Yarborough said.

He said that Harrison County also plans to meet with state agencies.

Hancock County Administrator Eddie Favre said that it's his understanding that the two other entities made their initial advance payments but did not start making the regular yearly monthly payments.

"So to possibly at least get us past the Jan. 15 payroll problem is that if the other two entities would come back and pay a portion of their remaining balance," Favre said.

The board took no official action, but Yarborough said that he will be in touch with the state and find out its intent as far as helping GCMH and also figuring a "Plan B" as far as operations and services go.

He added that Pearl River County has since left the district.

In other action:

Prior to Monday's meeting, Hancock County Judge Trent Favre swore in the county's newly- elected officials, which also included the incumbent supervisors, Scotty Adam (District 4), Bo Ladner (District 5), and Greg Shaw (District 2). New to the board are Theresa Ryan (District 1) and Kodie Koennen (District 3).

The board elected Adam as board president and Shaw as board vice-president for 2020.

The board also approved several 2020 re-appointments: Yarborough as board attorney; Favre as county administrator; Nancy Kelly as county comptroller; Geoff Clemens as county engineer; Vic Johnson as county road manager; all current county employees to their current positions and current salaries; and Brian Adam as county EMA director.

The board announced that, effective Jan. 6, Caesar Necaise Road will be closed due to the replacement of the Caesar Necaise Road Bridge over Hickory Creek. Detour routes will be posted.

The board approved a motion authorizing the board president to sign the close out documents related to the Heritage Trail Possum Walk Trail Repair project.

The board also approved a motion to amend the contract with B&H Lawn Service to include a scope of work for Possum Walk Trail for an annual amount of $4,800.

The board also approved a motion to keep Possum Walk Trail opened year round.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Jan. 21 at 9 a.m.

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