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Mayors want more input on Geneva County’s American Rescue Plan spending

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:26 PM CST
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GENEVA, Ala. (WTVY) - Mayors across Geneva County were at Monday’s commission meeting. They were in attendance to make sure the funds for city needs are considered when spending the American Rescue Plan money granted to the county.

Geneva County was granted over five million dollars from the American Rescue Plan. This money must be specifically spent in mitigation for COVID-19 and if not, there will be financial consequences due to the large amount the county received.

During the commission meeting mayors around Geneva County expressed their need for assistance with fire, rescue and EMS in each city because of the wear down the virus brought.

“Y’all need to tell us as mayors what y’all need from us so we can provide you with information,” Clay King, Mayor of Samson, said to commissioners.

Mayor King said there is a need for funding for ambulances in his city, especially considering the amount of runs they make in the county.

“We’re getting hammered as a result of COVID, we’re wearing out vehicles, we’re spending large amount of money,” Mayor King said.

Other mayors are facing the same issues.

“We desperately need this continued funding from the county to help us sort of equal out some of these expenses we’ve got on these county runs so we hope they will honor that request,” Rob Hinson, Mayor of Slocomb, said.

And at times the cities response goes not only within their city, but beyond Geneva County.

“Our rescue department has been running to Jacksonville, Florida, Mississippi, Mobile, North Alabama, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia” David Hayes, Mayor of Geneva, said. “We don’t have the manpower for that. We have already worn out two ambulances just in the past year and a half, I mean complete worn out. We are loaning ambulances, Slocomb has borrowed them, Hartford has borrowed them. We work together and we want to work together with y’all as well.”

Now, they are asking commissioners to consider meeting their needs with a portion of the ARP money.

“It takes a toll,” Neil Strickland, Mayor of Hartford, said. “With 500 plus dirt roads in the county and every time I look at my active 911, I see what directions they are going in and it does take a toll on our units and so if the funding is there to help replace or repair these units then I think it needs to be allocated towards these cities.”

They say right now they are covering the cost of services but it’s getting out of hand.

“We’ve got to come up with some kind of solution because we just can’t keep affording eating all this and we’re going to have to make some decision at our city levels on what we are going to do if we can’t get some help,” Mayor King said.

But, the county has critical needs of their own they hope to use some of the funding for.

“That’s going to be our priority, is meeting the county needs,” Toby Seay, Geneva County Commission Chairman, said. “We feel very confident there is going to be additional funding leftover once we prioritize our needs and then we want to help the cities out in any way we can.”

Chairman Seay said agencies requests were submitted, but they need specifics to be in compliance with the ARP for spending.

“The commission fully supports the mayors and their requests for funding for their rescue departments,” Chairman Seay said. “Once we receive the updated request from the cities, those requests will be sent to our association to be vetted to ensure compliance with the American Rescue Plan.”

Chairman Seay said once this is done, the commission can prioritize requests.

The county has received half of the American Rescue Plan money, which is about 2.5 million dollars. The second half will be distributed next May.

They will have until 2024 to disperse the money to expend those funds and will have until 2026 if a contract is in place.

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