The Coweta County Council of Commissioners held a working session on September 28 to discuss and hear comments on how to spend the $ 28.8 million the county received from the American Rescue Plan Act.
ARPA was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, and funds from the law are to be used to mitigate the negative economic impact caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Coweta County received the first half of the $ 28.8 million earlier this year in May. The county will receive the second half of the funds in May 2022.
The county also has an online survey for residents to provide feedback and ideas on how ARPA funds should be spent. The survey is available at https://bit.ly/cowetaarpa.
The investigation will remain open until October 12.
The State of Georgia will receive approximately $ 5 billion through ARPA, of which $ 2.4 billion will be available as grants to local governments, state agencies, businesses and organizations for purpose. non-profit.
Applications for state funding must be submitted by October 31, 2021.
Recipients of ARPA funds via the state must allocate the funds by December 31, 2024 and spend the money by December 31, 2026.
Coweta County Administrator Michael Fouts said community organizations can work with the county on grant applications to strengthen the possibility of receiving funds.
“If we are in partnership together, I think it is a better application,” he said.
Fouts said that ARPA funds can be used in six categories:
- Support for the public health response
- Replacing lost public sector revenue
- Invest in water and sewer infrastructure
- Coping with negative economic impacts
- Salary bonus for essential workers
- Invest in broadband infrastructure
According to Fouts, projects funded with ARPA funds must identify a need or negative impact caused by the pandemic. Projects will need to identify how they will tackle the problem and relate the economic impact to the public health emergency.
Suggested spending for ARPA funds included money for Coweta Cares, vaccine incentives, expansion to Browns Mill, sections of LINC, personal protective equipment, and an upgrade to the county website. .
The Brown’s Mill battlefield has seen an increase in visitors during the pandemic, Fouts said, and the physical recreation offered by him and LINC allows funds to be used at these locations.
Body scanners and an extension to the county jail, a medical unit at Coweta County Fire Station 5 and a DFACS construction project have been suggested for partial funding through ARPA funds.
Bonuses and rehiring of workers on leave were also suggested to commissioners as expenses.
“These are just ideas that need to be looked at further,” Fouts said.
Fouts said projects completed by the county would not be approved all at once. Instead, they will be completed in groups.
“The staff plan to lead the projects in a phased manner to ensure that we are careful and thoughtful about the investment we would like to make,” he said.
At the end of Fouts’ presentation to the Commissioners, members of the community organizations had the opportunity to comment on how they would like to see the ARPA funds used in Coweta County.
Pamela Gable, senior grant editor at the Coweta Community Foundation, suggested that ARPA funds be used to replace some of the homes lost due to tornado EF-4 on March 26.
The majority of the areas affected by the tornado were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, and the destruction of the storm only made the problem worse.
She also suggested using ARPA funds for vocational training programs in areas facing economic distress.
Candice Boothby of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce said Commissioners’ funding for small business assistance would be helpful.
Dr Brendan Kelly and Dr Julie Post, presidents of the University of West Georgia and West Georgia Technical College respectively, both told commissioners their institutions would be willing to partner with the county. Both presidents said they would like to see investments in workforce development.
Post said the WGTC would do “whatever we can do to work with commissioners to help people find jobs and prepare for careers.”
Jeff Phillips, deputy managing director of Newnan Utilities, also said he would like funds to be allocated for workforce development to “help people earn a good living wage.”
Jay Boren, CEO of the Coweta Water & Sewage Authority, said he sent a request to Fouts for ARPA funds on March 17 for an extension of the Shenandoah sewage treatment plant, which cost $ 28.4 million. dollars at the time, and now exceeds $ 30 million.
According to Boren, the expansion would double the size of the plant.
Potential projects could be before the board at its next meeting, according to Fouts.