STARKVILLE – With a last-minute tweak to its American Rescue Plan Act resolution on Thursday, aldermen believe the city has put its best foot forward in receiving a dollar-for-dollar match for its $6.3 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.
In a special-call meeting, the board assented to dedicating those funds to water, sewer and storm drainage work along Highway 182 and Main/Lampkin streets. The change to the resolution removed plans to also use ARPA to help pay for similar projects in the Green Oaks and Rolling Hills subdivision after the city received word last week those would not qualify for matching funds.
The deadline is today for counties and municipalities to submit their plans to the state for ARPA matching funds.
“I anticipate there will be a lot of municipalities that will not be as prepared as we are,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said during the meeting, complimenting her staff’s “yeoman’s work” in putting together and adapting the city’s ARPA resolution.
If the city receives matching funds for both projects in the final resolution, Spruill told The Dispatch it would use roughly $10 million on the water, sewer and drainage infrastructure pieces of an upcoming overhaul to the Highway 182 corridor. The remaining $2 million-plus should cover replacing water mains along Main and Lampkin streets.
The city received $12.66 million in 2019 from a United States Department of Transportation grant to revamp a mile of the highway – from Long Street to Old West Point Road – narrowing the roadway, adding medians and more pedestrian access, among other things.
The grant was originally meant to cover 80 percent of the $15.8 million in estimated project costs, with the city providing the remaining almost $3.2 million in match. However, Spruill said, rising material and service costs have swelled project estimates to about $26 million, making the federal grant “more of a 50/50 than an 80/20.”
By using ARPA to cover the water/sewer/drainage aspects of the project – which are allowable uses that qualify for matching funds under ARPA rules – the city can combine that with the DOT grant and match and still complete the project.
Initially, the city planned to use most of its $6.3 million in ARPA for parks and recreation. It later changed the plan to include four water/sewer/drainage projects because they stood a better chance of receiving matching dollars.
City Attorney Chris Latimer, however, told aldermen Thursday that though the state would grant ARPA matches, the projects had to fall under federal guidelines. He advised the Green Oaks and Rolling Hills projects would likely not qualify for match because engineering services for those were not individually advertised for bids.
Spruill told The Dispatch those projects fell under a master services contract with Garver Engineering, which also designed the now-complete drainage infrastructure in Pleasant Acres as part of the contract. The city will still complete those projects using bond funds supported by water rates.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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