Atmore to receive $1.69M from American Rescue Plan Act
By DON FLETHCER
News Staff Writer
No one is sure yet whether there will be any strings attached, as far as how the money is spent, but City of Atmore officials are expecting a windfall of $1.69 million when the logistics of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act’s governmental stimulus program are finalized.
As the largest population center in Escambia County, Atmore will get the lion’s share ($1,688,271), almost half the $3,407,871 allocation the Alabama League of Municipalities says will be divided among Escambia County’s various communities. The county itself will receive $7.1 million, according to a report posted online by the League.
Brewton will receive $965,838; East Brewton will get $436,759; and $258.237 has been allocated for Flomaton. The Riverview community will receive $33,554; Pollard will get $25,212.
State, city and government officials aren’t sure just when they’ll receive the first of two installments, although estimates are that it will be in the fall. The second payment is expected to be made in June 2022.
The money — which has to be used by December 31, 2024 or repaid — has not been earmarked for specific expenditures, and ALM officials expect that some projects not related to the effects of COVID-19 will be allowed.
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff declined to comment on the anticipated infusion of federal funds, but City Clerk Becca Smith said officials have pretty much been told only that the money is coming.
“All we really know right now is that we’re supposed to get $1.69 million,” Smith said. “I haven’t discussed the possibilities with the city council yet, but we are going to first discuss it with the city engineer (Jeremy McMath of Civil Southeast), then with council members. We should be doing that in the very near future.”
McMath recommended using the windfall to fund several projects that are badly needed or that have been put on a back burner in the past.
“We are still a few weeks away from knowing what the rules are for this money,” the engineer said in an email to Smith, Staff and other city employees. “However, we see some great opportunities for the city. I realize it isn’t ours to spend; however, the following are a few thoughts on how you might leverage a portion of this money.”
McMath’s list of possibilities includes expansion of the upcoming municipal street resurfacing plan, roadway improvements in Oak Hill Cemetery, rehabilitation of Pensacola Avenue sidewalks and/or paying off the city’s share of the Community Development Block Grant used to help secure Brown Precision’s decision to locate in Rivercane.
“We’re telling (members) to take a breath and to begin thinking about how to best use this opportunity for legacy-type programs,” advised Greg Cochran, executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities, in an article published online by Alabama Daily News.
The act includes nearly $360 billion to help states, counties and cities recover from revenues lost and projects interrupted or canceled due to the novel coronavirus. Alabama will get $4.04 billion of that total, with about $951 million in additional funds going to Alabama counties and $779 million more allocated to the state’s cities and towns.