Auburn budgets American Rescue Act money

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 4:16 PM EST
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - We’re learning more about how local governments across the nation are using federal funds to help recover from COVID losses through the American Rescue Plan. Auburn city council discussed Tuesday night how to spend part of the city’s 16.5 million dollars they got.

This is already in the Auburn City budget. Tuesday evening, city councilors focused on two ways they approved to spend the rescue plan funds - helping local health care systems and workers who did a lot extra during the pandemic and healthy air through an area company.

“We have to, by law, have encumbered this money, which means contractually, we have to have it obligated somewhere by the end of 2024. Then, by the end of 2026, we have to spend it all fund. If we don’t, we will lose the funds,” said Auburn City Manager Megan Crouch.

The city of Auburn received 16.5 million dollars as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. So the next thing was to find places and projects in the city that needed that money most.

At the meeting, city officials approved funding the East Alabama Health and the Boykin HVAC system.

Auburn City Manager Megan Crouch said the money would help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As of last night, East Alabama Health will receive 3.3 million dollars that will go towards the contracted workers that were needed during the pandemic, which cost more than 15 million dollars in extra costs.

Crouch said another priority for the federal dollars is healthier air inside buildings, for which Boykin HVAChas approved 7,500 dollars.

“We do have some other money budgeted toward a bigger expansion at the Boykin Donahue campus that will go toward a library, a cultural center, a splash pad along with parking and other things,” said Crouch.

That project would highlight the history of the city’s black community.

Crouch said they do have an unallocated budget of 300,000 dollars. This is money they decided would go towards tackling homelessness. Auburn’s city manager says they are still working on the specifics with various agencies in the area.

“We are waiting a little bit longer to determine what all they plan to do and see where we can place funds that are most appropriate,” said Crouch.

Crouch said they have to follow federal regulations with the rescue plan money or evaluate other ways to spend it.