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Cities, county to receive ‘Rescue’ funding

The American Rescue Plan (a.k.a. The American Stimulus Package) was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11. The new law mixes efforts to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with strategies to fight the virus and is one of the largest economic rescue plans in U.S. history. An estimated $350 billion of the $1.9 trillion spending plan will be going to states, counties and cities.

The money is being distributed based on population. Alabama’s most popular county, Jefferson, will be getting $127.73 million. Mobile County will be getting $80.14 million, Madison County (Huntsville) $72.32 million, and Montgomery County just under $43.93 million. Closer to home, Lee County will be getting $31.91 million, the City of Auburn $16.10 million and Opelika $6.78 million.

Across the state line, Troup County will receive $13.56 million, the City of LaGrange $9.55 million, Harris County $6.83 million and the City of West Point $1.18 million.

Chambers County will receive $6.45 million, Cusseta will receive $20,000, Five Points will be receiving $30,000, the City of Valley $1.69 million, Lanett $1.14 million and LaFayette $539,000.

Local officials are glad to be getting some federal help but are in no hurry to spend the money.

Chambers County Commission Chairman Sam Bradford is on the board of directors of the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama (ACCA) and on a committee studying this specific issue.

“We have four years to spend the money,” he told The Valley Times-News. “We don’t want to drag our feet on it, but we do have to be careful to spend it the right way. What we do with it will have to withstand a federal audit. This is something we have never dealt with before. We’re glad to be getting some help, and it is our intention to spend it for the public good. We will be very careful that it’s legal and spent in the manner it is spelled out for.”

Local mayors are looking at infrastructure needs, such as better streets, water and sewer services.

“We have a lot of old pipes in the ground,” said West Point Mayor Steve Tramell. “We will be looking at that and other similar needs. We will be talking with the council about this in the near future.”

Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy said Lanett’s share of this money would be a topic of discussion at a work session that’s set for 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 12.“We will be studying what we can use it for,” he said. “There are several different things we can be looking at. We will look to see if we can pair any portion of this money with grants. It will be our goal to get the optimum use we can that will benefit the most people.”

Valley Mayor Leonard Riley said that he will be talking to the Valley City Council about this at an upcoming work session on Thursday evening, April 15. 

“We will do what we can to put the money to good use, all of it on infrastructure,” he said. “We have lots of needs in Valley. We appreciate this, but $1.69 million is not going to take care of all our needs.”