CHINA GROVE – Although city council plans to wait for further advice from the federal government before spending more money under the American Rescue Plan Act, members began to think about a ‘wish list’ on Tuesday evening projects that could receive funding.
China Grove is expected to receive just over $ 1.3 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan, a $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has already received $ 672,451 and will receive the other half over the next 12 months.
While some municipalities have started spending their allocated funding, others have decided to wait until more concrete and clear guidelines are available on exactly how the money can be spent. Right now, governments have until the end of 2024 to spend the money. Interim final guidelines on funds generally dictate that the money must be used for reasons related to COVID-19.
At its December meeting, the board approved the transfer of the money it received into a special income fund and created a project order for the disbursement of the funding. These steps were taken after the city received advice from the University of North Carolina School of Government.
During the same meeting, the board also allocated $ 60,000 from ARPA funds as bonuses to full-time and part-time city employees who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, this is the only ARPA funding the board has spent.
In taking these steps, Deputy General Manager Franklin Gover said China Grove has already surpassed what most municipalities have done.
âMost of the cities don’t have an ordinance on the project in place,â Gover said. âMost cities don’t have a special income fund in place. Most cities do not have a staff compensation policy in place. So we have a head start.
Mayor Charles Seaford said at Tuesday’s meeting he would like city council to be prepared to spend the money when further instructions are received.
âI want to be in front of this wave, not behind this wave,â Seaford said.
The council discussed the allocation of ARPA funding to improve Hanna Park and the community center in addition to the purchase of a knuckle boom truck. The truck would help the city’s public works department keep roads, sidewalks and curbs free of debris.
Council members asked Gover if the ARPA money could be used to improve sidewalks or streets, but Gover said the best way to do it might be to apply for a grant from the federal government instead. .
City Councilor Cheryl Sheets pitched the idea of ââdistributing funds to Main Street Marketplace and the China Grove Roller Mill for nonprofits to host health clinics for the community.
“Looking at our seniors and low income people, we could outsource services but do it through Main Street Mission and Roller Mill and contract with them to set up a health and wellness clinic.” , Sheets said. âI know you could use the Cabarrus-Rowan Community Health Center. They have a mobile van. They could come and get free vaccines, they could do COVID tests, they could do blood pressure, diabetes checks. “
By contracting with nonprofits to host the clinics, Sheets said it would attract more people to downtown China Grove and give local businesses a boost.
The board also discussed the distribution of funds to help local businesses or the renewal of the China Grove Board of Trade.
âLooking at the interim final rules, businesses affected by COVID-19, there is definitely some funding available there,â Gover said. âWe just need to set criteria on how I can allocate that, how do I ask for identification of the need or the impact they have received. “
City Councilor Don Bringle mentioned that it could be administered in the same way as Rowan County’s grant program ran last year.
Seaford cautioned that the list of projects will evolve over time and is not “set in stone.” He said he would like ARPA funding to be added to the agenda for every meeting in order to keep it high on the board’s minds.