Health & Welfare committee faces daunting task of prioritizing proposals already $2.7 in red

Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2022

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Chairman Dr. Robert Acuff told the Carter County Health and Welfare committee it is time to do some homework before making a decision on how to spend the $11 million in ARP funds earmarked for the county.
The committee is tasked with recommending how to allocate $10,253,291 from the ARP act as well as $7,478,770 of TDEC funds for utility infrastructure work.
The committee members were asked to score the projects from zero to five with five being the highest score. At the next meeting, Acuff said each project’s score would be looked at and “then we can fight over which ones need to be funded.”
One project that was originally placed on the TDEC projects was over $69,000 of funding to assist the First Utility District with water line replacement when the Blevins Hollow Bridge and Danner Bridge are replaced. Highway Superintendent Roger Colbaugh spoke during public comments requesting that the project be placed back with the current proposals to “seek help for the First Utility District.”
“TDEC will not accept the project and I was wondering if that can be included in the ARP funding proposals,” Colbaugh said. “We will be done with Blevins pretty quickly but those people in the First Utility don’t have the money to spend on putting those lines back.”
Acuff agreed to move the project back to be scored with the other proposals.
The list of proposals include the following:
  • Carter County/Skyline/SkyBest fiber-based internet $3.2 million ($2.5 million with an additional $600,000 from the general fund and $100,000 from Carter County Schools).
  • Carter County EMS – Ambulance – $241,124.
  • Carter County Health Department – $127,700.
  • Carter County Essential Employees Bonuses – 306 employees times $12,000 – $3,624,000.
  • Carter County 911 – Mobile ready emergency center – $47,375.
  • The Grief Recovery Method ($200 per attendee).
  • Carter County Fire Association – 4 times $150,000 – $600,000.
  • Carter County Watauga VFD – $150,000.
  • City of Elizabethton Fire Department ladder truck request – $1.5 million.
  • Friends of the Animal Shelter Spay and Neuter facility – $655,000.
  • Carter County Drug Prevention – $60,000.
  • Poga, Elk Mills CC EMS – $553,674; Ambulance – $225,510; Fire Pumper – $312,550.
  • Constables of Carter County – $48,000.
  • Danner and Blevins Hollow Bridge Replacement – First Utility District – $69,000.
The summary from the above proposals total $10,714,133.
Additionally, the following are funds that have already been approved by the commission before receiving the previous 13 proposals:
  • Stoney Creek and Hampton VFD – $150,000 each – $300,000.
  • First Utility for Dry Hollow waterline extension – $382,250.
  • 300 N. Main Street purchase – $295,000 (9/14/2021).
  • Courtroom live stream equipment – $19,387.60.
Adding the two totals together makes the total $11,710,770. Acuff also reminded the committee that the 15% match for the TDEC funds would have to come out of the ARP funds which was $1,319,783 putting the overall grand total to a negative amount of ($2,777,262).
The projects to be considered under the TDEC funding with a balance of $7,478,770 are as follows:
  • Peter’s Hollow Water/Utility – $200,000.
  • Big Springs Water/Utilities – undetermined.
  • City of Elizabethton Water/Utility service to county residents – the city requests 35% of the $7.4 million. Carter County’s 35% of these funds would be $2,617,570 with the city paying the matching portion.
  • Laurels water line – $540,000.
  • Carder View Utility System – undetermined.
The committee set the criteria to be considered for funding before entertaining proposals. There are five items that the proposals have to meet before being scored which are:
  • Have in the body of the contents the number of people it will serve.
  • Meet the criteria of what the state has said the money can be used for.
  • Address the healthcare safety net including fire departments, EMS, and partnering with the City of Elizabethton.
  • Be in project form. The committee will not be responsible for writing anybody’s project. The documentation should include the appropriate information needed including people served, cost, engineering, etc.
  • Be a turn-key project and not one that requires phases to accomplish.
The next meeting for the Health & Welfare Committee will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.

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