MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – The Marshall County Commission is stuck with a good problem to have.
It is being awarded $18,797,215 plus interest from the U.S. Treasury for the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery grant.
$9 million is already in their account.
“If nothing changes, just interest is about $27,000 annually,” said county attorney Clint Maze.
The problem is: how to spend it all in just four years.
Commissioners spend it on items related to the coronavirus pandemic and meet specific requirements.
The Association of County Commissioners of Alabamais establishing the group “Investing in Alabama Counties”(IAC) to assist counties in determining if their projects meet the requirements.
“5% of the first $7 million then 4% over that. For Marshall County that means $891,888,” added MAze.
Based on interim rules, Maze tells News 19 the funding can be used to support public health response such as vaccination clinics and/or stockpiling personal protective equipment and replenishing that.
He says it also allows for replenishing lost revenue caused by COVID-19.
“What happens when everybody is on quarantine and everybody is staying at home, the amount of gallons of gas sold in the state and in every state went down dramatically but when you have paving and different public works projects that are funded by gas tax revenue and then all of a sudden you have a dramatic decrease in those taxes. This money specifically provides formulas for replacement of lost revenue. There are a lot of calculations that have to be done but I do anticipate Marshall County and every county government will do those calculations and move the allowed portion of money from the coronavirus relief fund to the general fund to replace lost revenue,” he explained.
The interim rules also state the grant can be used for capital improvements and investments to public facilities to address problems highlighted and identified during the pandemic.
“Air purification, air sanitation where the HVAC systems that are circulating the air has the process to filter out and/or kill the virus or bacteria that is in the air before it circulates to another area,” said Maze. “What I’m telling my elected officials is, just think through the challenges that we’ve had in the last year and the ways that we’ve addressed those, the way we can mitigate it in the future. And I hope that we never experience something like this again in our lifetime but what would it take to be ready if we did. And those are the type projects that I think should receive top priority in the expenditure of these funds.”
District two commissioner Ricky Watson tells News 19 he wants to use the funding to directly help the residents of his district.
“A lot of the water systems were built years ago and we have 50 or 60 houses probably served off a two-inch water line and that doesn’t give the property owners the opportunity to get hooked up on a six-inch line to where that could help them on their homeowners insurance. Well, that’s what I want to try to do with some of this money in my district is offer those people the opportunity to get on a six-inch water line where it will help them in their lives,” said Watson. “When it all comes down to it, I’m a servant is all I am to the people in my district. I want to give them something that is very beneficial to them.”
He says he has a list of about 20 miles of new water lines he would like to install, which leads to more work.
“It’s going to take expanding the plant, expanding the holding facilities and all that, so it’s a stairstep effect. When you do the one, it affects the other,” Watson explained.
Emergency Management Agency director Anite McBurnett suggested at Wednesday’s special-called meeting that all department heads assemble a list of what they would like to spend the grant money on and present them to Maze on June 23 for verification they meet the U.S. Treasury’s requirements.