Coastal Observer

SC - Federal funds will cover wide range of local projects – Coastal Observer

Local governments are making plans for spending their share of the $1.9 trillion from the federal American Rescue Plan. That ranges from $12 million for Georgetown County to $53,000 for the town of Pawleys Island.

The money can be used to pay public sector workers who provided essential services during the pandemic or to offset the pandemic’s impact on communities. It can also be used on infrastructure.

Council Council approved a spending proposal this month for $2.1 million of capital projects. County departments were asked to submit projects, which were then reviewed by Administrator Angela Christian and senior staff.

“Infrastructure-related items  would be the primary category,” said Jackie Broach, the county public information officer. “We could probably spend every penny of available funding on that and still have projects remaining.”

The single biggest expense in the list approved by council is $500,000 for an HVAC system at the Georgetown Library, which is due for an expansion and renovation project.

Another $400,000 is earmarked for economic development, but no projects are identified. The county is waiting to see what projects would comply with an ever-evolving set of federal rules for spending the money, Broach said.

Fire districts will get $350,000 for new Lifepak heart monitors and defibrillators.

Council Member Bob Anderson proposed delaying a vote on the spending plan until the council could discuss it in a workshop. That idea failed on a 4-2 vote.

The city of Georgetown will receive more than $4.35 million over two years. The City Council is still discussing how to spend it.

City Administrator Sandra Yúdice  proposed spending 57 percent of the allocation on infrastructure improvements. That includes $1.8 million for water projects.

Yúdice said priority was given to water or sewer systems with the oldest equipment and those with high repair costs. City employees who work on those systems were consulted, she added.

Council Member Tupelo Humes suggested at a workshop last week that the money be divided evenly between four areas: the  Historic District, West End, Willowbank and Maryville.

Yúdice said separating the money equally might mean there wouldn’t be enough to pay for all the projects in some areas.

“The West End needs a lot more than sewer work,” Humes said. “Whatever we can get done, we get done.”

Council Members Clarence C. Smalls and Hobson Henry Milton also questioned whether the infrastructure projects were fairly divided.

“We have to be fair,” Mayor Brendon Barber said. “Fair doesn’t necessarily mean evenly divided.”

Council Member Al Joseph said council should rely on the input from the experts who work on the systems to decide which are the most critical, which is how the projects ended up in Yúdice’s proposal.

Barber asked each council member to meet with Yúdice individually before the next council meeting to go over the project list.

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