Chairman planning town hall meetings for ARP funds

Published 9:50 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
The public will have input on how to spend nearly $11 million Carter County will receive as part of the American Rescue Plan.
After a decision to eliminate a citizens advisory group, the Carter County Health and Welfare Committee has been tasked with developing a prioritized list of possible projects for using the funds. Chairman Dr. Robert Acuff said he wants the public input in that process.
Acuff said he met with County Attorney Josh Hardin with questions how he could open the process to the public for comments. “I knew Isaiah (Grindstaff) and a couple of other commissioners and constituents were upset that no citizen would be able to voice an opinion in the prioritization,” Acuff said. “I asked (Hardin) if I could do it as a town hall meeting and he told me that I had absolute authority as chair, and he said that he would support anything that I wanted to do” to establish a public process.
No details for a town hall forum or another type of process have been finalized.
The decision to eliminate the citizens advisory board came during a Jan. 18 meeting of the Carter County Commission when Financial Management Chairman Brad Johnson suggested putting the decisions in the hands of the Health and Welfare Committee, which includes one representative from each of the eight county districts. The motion passed 19-4, with Grindstaff standing in vocal opposition that citizens needed to have some part in the process of the prioritization of the projects.
Acuff said his committee was waiting for direction from Jason Mumpower, comptroller of the treasury, on which types of projects would be eligible for using these funds. That information was released Jan. 11. Among the guidelines:
  • Funds cannot be used to reimburse costs incurred prior to March 3, 2021.
  • Funds cannot be used to replenish or make contributions to rainy day funds or other reserve funds.
  • Funds cannot be used to pay interest, principal, or costs on debt. This includes long-term debt, short-term revenue or tax anticipation notes, or fees or issuance costs associated with new debt.
  • Funds cannot be deposited into a pension fund.
Acuff said he also will seek input from the Chamber of Commerce so the business sector is represented in the decision process.
And, he said, a process will be created by the committee for projects to be considered for funding.
“Everybody is going to have to come up with their projects and have to write an information document that describes the project and the projection on what it is going to cost because I am not going to do that,” Acuff said.
Acuff said he hopes to address the process in February’s Health and Welfare meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

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