With $ 78 million to spend, Columbus seeks public input on US bailout funding

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) – The public has the opportunity to let leaders in the city of Columbus know how they would like to see the American Rescue Plan Act funds used.

News Leader 9 attended the first of two town halls on Monday evening at the City Services Center as officials discussed funding priorities.

Federal funding for the US bailout is aimed at providing economic relief from the negative economic and health impacts of the pandemic.

Columbus Deputy City Manager Pam Hodge said the plan allocates the Columbus Consolidated Government (CCG) a total of $ 78.4 million to be paid in two rounds. Hodge says he received $ 39 million in June and expects to receive the second half by June of next year.

Mayor Skip Henderson says the pandemic has affected so many parts of the community over the past year and a half. “Our goal is quite simple. It is about finding the best way to treat the most people with the amount of money that we have allocated. And in order to do that, it doesn’t make sense not to include people from the community. “

CCG is seeking public input on a priority list it has established for funding to be achieved.

These include the automation of garbage collection, revenue collection, community protection programs and cameras, bonuses for certain employees and more.

“This should be channeled to critical areas of our community, especially areas that are suffering. The recreation areas that we had, the water recreation activities that we had that we didn’t have because they said we didn’t have enough to pay the lifeguards, ”said Jerome Lawson, owner of a little company.

The priority list also includes small business grants.

“We’re talking about three million in the first round. Three million, just be on the lookout for the grant application process as it will be possible to get grants for small businesses, ”said Isiah Hugley, City Manager.

The federal government has yet to give final guidance on exactly how these funds can be used.

There will be an update for City Council on this public contribution on August 10. On August 24, council will vote on funding priorities.

There will be a second public meeting in the council chamber at the City Service Center this Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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