HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Madison County Commission continues to distribute funds designated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), but where the money should go is an ongoing debate among commissioners.
Some of the $72 million given to the county in 2021 remains unallocated, and the commission will have to direct those funds before the end of next year.
At a commission work session on Wednesday, $23.6 million was set aside for infrastructure improvements including water and road upgrades.
“We made a decision today that these are good projects,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Mac McCutcheon.
Moving forward, more than $7 million remains for community development.
“Commissioners are going to have to go back,” McCutcheon said. “They’re going to have to look at their districts. They’re going to have to look at community projects. We’re going to have to look at those projects that will qualify.”
District 6 Commissioner Violet Edwards said she has worked with several nonprofits with upcoming projects in her district.
“The only way the people in District 6 will really see impact is with some of these nonprofit allocations,” Edwards said.
Representatives with Alabama A&M and Thrive Alabama spoke at Wednesday’s planning meeting, asking for funding for projects related to local growth. In the wake of record enrollment, A&M needs additional and updated housing for students. Thrive Alabama is working to consolidate healthcare services in underserved communities.
“We have been working for three years to build a 72,000 square foot healthcare center in north Huntsville,” said Thrive Alabama CEO Mary Elizabeth Marr. “I hear every day that people can not find, insured and uninsured, a doctor for their family.”
Based on available funding, the commission will not be able to approve every proposed project.
“Health care is just one of the things we need to be talking about as we have hundreds of thousands of people moving into the city and into the county, we need to make sure that medical infrastructure is in place,” Edwards said.
The commission’s next meeting is set for Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 10:00 a.m.