It has been eight months since the US bailout was enacted.
Local authorities are now trying to figure out what to do with the money.
While the most notable piece of the legislation was probably stimulus payments to most Americans, local governments – both city and county – have also received funding. Warren County received approximately $ 7.8 million while the Town of Warren allocation was nearly $ 1 million.
County officials have received informal requests for funds and county commissioners are cementing the process by which these requests will be formally considered.
Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said “Lisa (Hagberg, Director of Finance and Administration) has generated an application process if desired in order to receive applications.”
However, the county has a “Great hesitation” Kafferlin said, like “(we) know we want to spend most of the money on the deployment of broadband in the county.”
He called it the “The number one infrastructure problem in the county. This is our top priority.
But he said the county had received three requests for funds – water and sewer infrastructure projects in Youngsville and Pleasant Township as well as a boat launch project in the town of Warren.
Kafferlin pointed out that the commissioners “I want to know what the needs are” and are ready to help identify other sources of funding if the bailout funds are not allocated.
“(I) don’t know what kind of schedule we’re working on right now”, he added.
Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said the recent passage of an infrastructure law would lead to a “Massive investments in broadband that could surpass the meager $ 7 million we would put in as matching funds.”
He said no clear broadband project is in place as the proposals have “sort of vanished into the ether.”
“I really think we should have a working group or something to sort that out (how to spend the funds) in a short period of time,” he said, raising concerns about ensuring a fair distribution of funds.
This discussion is expected to continue at the Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday.
City manager Nancy Freenock said in a budget hearing later in the day that the city has sufficient dollar funding for the bailout. “To finance the entire match for the launching ramp” but said staff would continue to recommend asking the county for $ 500,000 to support the project.
City Councilor John Wortman asked Freenock if the city is in a strong enough fiscal position to allocate the entire bailout allocation at launch.
She said yes but noted that she is “Not sure this is something the board would like to do.”
“We have some streets that are flooded when it rains” she said, describing several other projects that could be funded with the bailout dollars – replacing pipes along the river; drainage at Mulberry Park; proposals including pickleball, improvement of the softball field and disc golf in Betts and a cycle path along the river. None of these projects are included in the 2022 city budget.
She added that the county’s $ 500,000 would be the “Last piece of the match” needed to finance the $ 2 million launch proposal.