How some Hamilton County municipalities plan to use millions in federal stimulus money

The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act included $350 billion in state and local stimulus funds, including about $133 million for Hamilton County and its municipalities.

Local governments receiving allocations of less than $10 million can use the funds for almost any government service and project, except for rainy day funds, debt payments and “extraordinary” pension contributions , according to the U.S. Treasury’s final rule for state and local stimulus funds.

Counties and metropolitan cities like Chattanooga are receiving stimulus fund payments directly from the US Treasury, which requires them to submit reports on how the funds are being spent.

Small governments, typically those serving populations of less than 50,000 people, receive federal funds as payments from the state in amounts based on their populations and are not subject to the same reporting requirements.

Small governments in Hamilton County are expected to receive approximately $23 million in stimulus funds split into two equal installments approximately 12 months apart, with the first distributed around October 2021 and the second expected to arrive around the same time this year.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press checked with small governments receiving allocations over $1 million to see how they plan to use the funds, which must be allocated by December 2024 and spent by December 2026.

Soddy-Daisy City Manager Burt Johnson said city officials are still discussing how to use the roughly $4 million allocated to the city, but plans are to spend about $2 million on build a new town hall or a police station.

The city is spending about $250,000 in recovery funds for park improvements, such as a new concession stand in South Park with an estimated cost of $150,000 and a new bridge over the Big Soddy Creek Gulf property off of Back Valley Road to replace a bridge washed out by heavy rain several years ago. The cost of the bridge is expected to be between $80,000 and $100,000, he said.

“Amounts on most things are still up in the air,” Johnson said, adding that the city is awaiting bids for a major resurfacing project that may require the use of salvage funds to cover the excess.

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How some Hamilton County municipalities plan to use millions in federal stimulus money

Part of the funds is for paying bonuses for employees who worked during the pandemic, he said.

The City of Signal Mountain is spending about $1.6 million of its $2.5 million recovery allocation for infrastructure projects, including $724,000 for drainage improvements and pipe replacements at various locations, $143,195 for a Tennessee Department of Transportation project at Palisades Drive, $530,000 for the repaving of Shackleford Ridge Road, $122,500 for the replacement of a water pump and $80,000 for a utility interconnection. water supply and the Walden’s Ridge Utility District, according to City Manager Elaine Brunelle.

The city is spending $51,000 on portable radios for the fire department and $50,000 to remodel Fire Station 1 to include women’s quarters, as well as $300,000 for a street sweeper, $180,000 for three lease payments for a bucket truck and $65,719 for car and bodywork. cameras for the police.

The city also spent $300,000 on employee retention bonuses, according to Brunelle.

The Town of Red Bank is using $480,000 of its $3.5 million allocation for stormwater infrastructure, which it will combine with a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Environment and Tennessee Conservation to cover the cost of projects, including a retention pond at White Oak Park, the replacement of three bridges on Stringers Branch and a sewer truck, according to chief financial officer John Alexander.

The city is spending $500,000 on technology upgrades, including audio and visual equipment, electronic signage, business process automation and technology support for the public works department. The city will spend $1,150,000 on facility upgrades, including a public works facility and Fire Station 2, as well as $312,500 each for radios for the fire department and on-board cameras for the department from police.

Red Bank is spending $532,150 on wage bonuses, with each full-time employee receiving 5% of the city’s average full-time employee salary, Alexander said.

An additional $9,200 will go towards overtime pay for 911 personnel and $66,000 will be used for a road project on Ashmore Avenue, he said.

About $150,000 will be distributed to local nonprofit organizations, which can apply for funds through a soon-to-be-created committee modeled on the City of Chattanooga. The funds will be distributed in $50,000 increments over two years, Alexander said.

East Ridge City Manager Chris Dorsey said the municipality will spend about $3.5 million of its $6.2 million stormwater drainage allocation for its multi-modal transportation project under construction on Ringgold. Road.

“Storm water costs would usually come from the general fund, so that will be a huge help,” he said.

City officials have yet to decide how the other half of the recovery funds will be spent, Dorsey said.

Collegedale City Manager Wayon Hines, Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer Michelle Toro did not respond to numerous calls and emails requesting information on how the city plans to spend its roughly $3.4 million allocation. dollars.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.


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