ANDERSON — Anderson City Council passed two ordinances that outline how the city will use the $23.1 million in U.S. federal bailout funds.
The council on Tuesday passed 5-4 an order that would provide $14.1 million to local nonprofits and small businesses with one significant change.
The council also withdrew the $705,605 requested by the city to administer the grant funds.
And the same vote also approved the $3 million in bonuses for employees who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the second ordinance, the council voted unanimously to provide $9 million of federal funds for infrastructure improvements to the city’s aging water system.
Councilor Jon Bell proposed to eliminate the administration fee and set aside the funds to be allocated by Council as needed.
Discussion of the amendment lasted over an hour with Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. calling for the defeat of this change.
Broderick said the city cannot incur any debt until the funds are appropriated and the amendment would delay the process of allocating funds for the remaining programs.
“We need people to administer the spending of the funds and to be able to report to the federal government on how the funds have been used,” he said.
Councilwoman Jennifer Culp said the city administration can come back to council and ask for the funding to hire the necessary people or outside companies.
“That plan has been in front of you since December,” Broderick said of the last-minute amendment. “We are starting a new program (ARP) and need to have the funds available.”
Councilman Rick Muir said it was a matter of trust and there needed to be oversight of spending.
“The federal government will monitor the city’s spending and record keeping.”
Councilman Lance Stephenson wondered how long the community will have to wait for the remaining funds to be distributed.
Of the $9 million for the water service upgrade, council rejected Councilor Ty Bibbs’ motion to file the application.
Bibbs wanted the city to work with the Madison County Health Department, local schools and hospitals to develop a plan to get more local residents vaccinated against COVID-19 during the winter months.
He offered an incentive to get Anderson residents vaccinated.
Bell said it plans to propose an amendment to reduce the amount for infrastructure improvements to $3 million and keep $6 million in reserve.
“I’m not going to make the motion,” he said. “I trust that we will get the detailed information.
“It’s not a political problem, it’s a problem for everyone,” Bell said. “It’s about the health of our community.”
Broderick said funding was urgently needed.
“That request has never changed,” he said of the $9 million offered in December. “This ensures that our children and grandchildren will have clean drinking water.”
Broderick said the city will apply for all state and federal grants to help pay for the planned $32 million project.
City Comptroller Doug Whitham said the city applied for a grant last year but was not approved.
“This will require funding from multiple sources,” he said. “We will discuss tariffs, bonding and apply for grants. This money reduces any future rate increases.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.