HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As community leaders across Alabama are preparing to get their hands on another wave of federal assistance, Attorney General Steve Marshall is encouraging leaders to brush up on their knowledge of Alabama ethics laws.
Alabama is expecting more than 4 billion dollars from the American Rescue Plan. Cities and counties will get large pools of money without restrictions seen in previous relief packages.
These are what some North Alabama counties are expecting to get:
- Madison County: $72.32 million
- Morgan County: $23.2 million
- Limestone: $19 million
- Marshall: $18 million
It’s not clear what larger cities like Huntsville could get. Birmingham is expecting $148.82 million. The funds are not yet here.
“The amount of money that we are receiving in such a short period of time is unprecedented and in my line of work, raises concerns,” said AG Marshall.
The relief money will likely end up transferring hands from government to contractors, potentially for infrastructure projects. Some of which may have been dormant during the pandemic.
“We see situations in which there is a clear conflict of interest with regard to the awarding of certain contracts or the services that are performed. Clearly personal gain,” said Marshall.
NEWS 19 reached out to several North Alabama cities and counties about the incoming relief money from the federal government. It became clear leaders are waiting for more guidance on how they can use the money. However, the Association of County Commissioners see major possibilities on the horizon.
“At the county commission level, the amount of money can have a lasting impact on that community,” said Sonny Brasfield, the Executive Director at the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.
The City of Huntsville told News 19 there’s a long list of projects that could move along with incoming federal funding but they just don’t have enough information yet.
On the ethics front, the state is making an online course available to leaders to make sure the money is being used correctly.
“You simply need to look at Alabama’s history. We’ve seen examples where our ethics laws have been violated and money is involved,” said Marshall.
Marshall admits the ethics laws here can be confusing. Ethics violations by public officials in Alabama could land someone in prison for a period of 2-20 years.
The incoming federal assistance has to be spent by 2024.