Commission discusses use of ARPA funds
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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
The County Commission held a two-part meeting last Tuesday, with commissioners having much discussion regarding the potential use of funds related to the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA.
Most of the agenda items from the 9:30 a.m. meeting were tabled, either until the commission reconvened at 1:30 that afternoon or for a future meeting.
During the morning portion of the meeting, Commissioner Unzell Kelley reviewed his proposed ARPA allocation plan for the county. The total COVID-19 funding amounted to $2,071,163.
Of that, $62,135 was earmarked for Investing in Alabama Counties, or IAC, and $40,000 for an audit. Kelley’s plan then reflected a breakdown of $1 million for the county’s ARPA fund allocation.
His proposal included $250,000 for county projects/loss revenue and a $500 one-time COVID-19 hazard pay for each of the county’s 76 employees; $100,000 for law enforcement; $250,000 for the probate office; $200,000 for county emergency medical services; and $169,028 for Highway Department materials.
The amount proposed for the probate office was noted t be contingent upon a grant process being approved for the digitization of probate records.
Following those allotments, Kelley then included $200,000 for each of the county’s five districts, with each commissioner choosing how to utilize those funds within their districts.
Kelley’s plan further notated, “Any dollars unexpended five months prior to the deadline date of December 2024 may be redirected toward another eligible service or project in the county with the consent of the commission by a majority vote of the commission.”
During the afternoon reconvened meeting, the commission unanimously approved Kelley’s allocation plan, along with the wish list items for each district’s funding.
However, the approved projects, including Kelley’s proposed plan, were all considered part of a potential “wish list” because the county does not know if any or all of it will be approved by IAC, the county’s compliance partner.
County Administrator Amy Gilliland explained that the county will not have that approval for a few more weeks. Following the approval or response from IAC, the county will know if only certain items the commission approved can be funded or if all the “wish list” projects can be funded, based on the stipulations that accompany the funding.
However, during much discussion in the afternoon session of the meeting each commissioner stated their wishes for giving portions of their funds to various county projects.
For District 1, Commission Chair Randall Dunham submitted his wish list to have $100,000 go to the countywide ambulance service for Rockford and $100,000 to go to the Kellyton Water System.
For District 2, Commissioner Bertha K. McElrath submitted giving $100,000 to a sewer project for Goodwater and $20,000 for probate records digitization.
For District 3, Commissioner Kelley stated that he would like to utilize some of his district’s funds to help Ray Water Authority, as well as other projects. However, as of deadline it was unknown the total amount to go to Ray Water Authority and what specifically the other projects for his district are.
In District 4, Commissioner Ronnie Joiner stated that he wants to give $100,000 to the countywide ambulance service for Rockford and $100,000 to the water system.
For District 5, Commissioner Lamar Daugherty submitted utilizing $100,000 for road and bridge projects in his district, with those funds being given to the Highway Department for materials.
While all of these “wish list” items were approved by the commission and submitted, all of the proposals are tentative until the county gets a final approval of projects and funds to be used.
In other business, following a 26-minute executive session that morning to discuss certain building improvements for security, during the reconvened afternoon meeting the commission unanimously approved an expenditure to be paid out of the capital improvement fund for improved security.
The commission also unanimously approved paying an invoice or work order from Sentell Engineering in the amount of $9,800 for work performed at the Fielding Center, which is the Board of Education and Department of Human Resources’ buildings.
That work order included designing plans and specifications for replacement of the roof on the facility, as well as other work done relating to engineering construction plans and specifications and drafting construction plans.
Related to that matter, the commission also unanimously approved the engineering specifications for the roof replacement of the Fielding Center facility as submitted by Ed Morris with Sentell Engineering.
In other business the commission discussed an increase of public congestion within offices inside the courthouse, and County Engineer Tad Eason discussed potential funding for currently unfunded road and pipe projects.
The commission also approved tabling the potential purchase of digital medical kits for deputies and others until its next meeting so that it can gather more information and further look into the matter.
The next meeting of the Coosa County Commission will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22.