With $6.2 million to spend from what the county received in American Rescue Plan funds, County Council decided on Tuesday to schedule a joint meeting with County Commissioners in November on how to prioritize allocating that money.
Earlier this year, the Commissioners earmarked half of that, $3.1 million, but they are in the process of having that reviewed by attorneys to be certain how they are spending it meet stipulations in the ARP.
“If you don’t do what you’re supposed to with that money, they are going to want that back,” Council member Judy Smith said.
Council president Pam Crozier asked that the Commissioners contribute more to the City of Madison’s drinking water infrastructure project — estimated to cost $15 million. In the Commissioners’ initial draft in August for spending the ARP funds, $200,000 was earmarked for drinking water infrastructure, much less than the $2.5 million requested by Madison Mayor Bob Courtney.
Crozier asked the Commissioners to reconsider and provide more funding to the drinking water infrastructure project. “This is a big initiative” she said, noting the project affects most of the county’s residents with Canaan, Dupont and Rykers’ Ridge water companies all drawing water from Madison.
“You should contribute more to this project,” said Crozier, adding support now will impact water rates not just in the City of Madison, but in water companies in the county that depend Madison for their water.
Commissioners president David Bramer said he anticipates allocating more for the drinking water infrastructure project, but that there are other water companies in the county, too, and other entities needing support. Additionally, Bramer questioned why the city isn’t contributing more of its ARP funds to the to the project
The Commissioners original ARP spending draft had also earmarked $100,000 for a City of Madison request to support an Army Corps of Engineers comprehensive plan on stormwater improvement to mitigate possible future flash flooding disasters.
In other business:
• A public hearing was held for the proposed county budget that totals $23,920,894. A budget adoption meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, at 5 p.m. The budget includes $350,000 for the county’s animal shelter, an increase over the $209,401 allocated this year. Crozier said the increase is due to the efforts to address staffing and other needs at the shelter but that the amount could change. Once adopted by the county, the budget must still be finalized by the Department of Local Government Finance.
• The Council also approved a budget of $77,400 for Saluda Township. Because the advisory board includes one person who is a relative of the Saluda township trustee and another who is a firefighter (the budget provides funding for the fire department), and because the two together provide a majority of the advisory board, the budget required approval by the Council.