Hartselle, Morgan County municipalities receive federal aid
By Staff Reports
Hartselle, Morgan County and local municipalities will receive a piece of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan approved this month.
While exact guidance and rules for spending haven’t yet been issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury, the federal relief act makes clear the money can be used beyond costs specific to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re telling them to take a breath and to begin thinking about how to best use this opportunity for legacy type programs,” said Greg Cochran, executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities.
The act includes nearly $360 billion to help states, counties and cities. Alabama is getting $4.04 billion of that.
About $951 million will go to counties, and $779 million will go to municipalities. Money must be spent by the end of 2024.
Hartselle will receive $2.68 million, while Morgan County will receive $23.21 million.
Mayor Randy Garrison said city officials have not yet discussed how the funds will be used.
“We’re not sure about how it can be spent – the limitations on that yet,” Garrison said. “It will be spent efficiently and with a lot of thought and discussion.”
Other cities and towns in Morgan County also receiving aid are:
—Decatur: $12.04 million
Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said the money will be placed in a special account, and the county will need to show the federal government how the money is being spent.
He said there are fewer restrictions on how the money can be spent than in the past year’s CARES Act.
“We’d like to redo the heating and cooling system in the courthouse,” he said. “We’d like to isolate our vents to each floor so they can be at different temperatures if needed.
“We have the original system still in place since the courthouse was built in the 1970s. It’s something we’ve talked about doing.”
He said the county also could use some of the money as matching funds for a proposed community storm shelter in front of the county jail along Lee Street.
The county has applied for a FEMA grant to help fund the $1.2 million planned shelter. The county’s portion of the match is 25 percent, or about $300,000.
The shelter would able to house about 400 people during a storm and house offices and storage space, Long said.
“If we don’t get the grant, we could use the relief money to fund the entire project,” Long said.
He said building a proposed parking garage downtown is not in the immediate plans.
“The parking garage and the feasibility study are not a priority since COVID hit,” he said. “People aren’t out like they were because of the coronavirus, so I guess the study is on hold at this time.”
Mary Sell, Bayne Hughes and Michael Wetzel contributed to this report.