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Some of Alabama’s smallest municipalities pass on ARPA funds

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The American Rescue Plan Act sent more than $2 billion to the state of Alabama and hundreds of millions directly to counties and cities based on their population sizes.

But some of the state’s tiniest municipalities have declined the federal COVID-19 relief funding. According to the Alabama Department of Finance, which is in charge of doling out the money from the U.S. Treasury to most municipalities, 18 towns declined the funds, ranging from a few thousand dollars to about $147,000. Another five didn’t respond to the department, forfeiting their allocations.

“What we’ve heard from those smaller municipalities was when the original rules came out for use —  broadband, drinking water, wastewater infrastructure — those communities did not have anything within those three spaces that they could use the money for,” said Greg Cochran, executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities. “And they were concerned that there wouldn’t be other opportunities to utilize the funds. So they decided to forfeit them.”

Since the original rules last spring, spending guidelines have been loosened, including allowing cities to use the money as lost revenue — tax money they would have earned had it not been for the pandemic — to fund government services.  Those services could include road building and maintenance; general government administration; and provision of police, fire, and other public safety services. 

But when a city passed on its offered money, that money was dispersed to others that did accept the funds. Like the state, counties and municipalities are receiving their funds in two tranches, one early last year and another later this year.

That amount will be the same as the first installment.

Some of the towns that said no are among the smallest in the state and had the smallest ARPAA allocations

Oak Hill, Alabama, population 14 per the 2020 census, turned down about $5,400 over the two allocations.

“A lot of these real small towns are family owned property that incorporated to keep a neighboring municipality from encroaching their rules and regulations on them,” Cochran said. “And that’s why a lot of them don’t have infrastructure needs, they don’t have their own water system and all that.”

The largest town on the declining list was Trafford in northern Jefferson County, it had about 617 residents, per the 2020 census. 

Attempts to reach leaders in these municipalities were not successful.

Cochran also said that when the ARPA rules and regulations first came down, they were a bit intimidating.

“And not just for the small guys, even mid to large cities were very concerned about making sure they were doing things the right way,” Cochran said.

Alabama Daily News reporters Heather Gann and Maddison Booth contributed to this report.


Declined ARPA funds*

  • Town of Gu-Win, $ 20,660 
  • Town of Horn Hill, $ 27,191
  • Town of Cusseta, $ 14,723
  • Town of Pine Ridge, $ 33,722 
  • Town of Carolina, $35,028 
  • Town of County Line, $31,466 
  • Town of Franklin, $60,795 
  • Town of Oak Hill, $2,731 
  • Town of Providence, $23,391 
  • Town of Benton, $4,868 
  • Town of Lester, $15,555 
  • Town of Kellyton, $23,510 
  • Town of Shiloh, $33,366 
  • Town of Grimes, $66,020 
  • Town of Natural Bridge, $4,155 
  • Town of Daviston, $24,935 
  • Town of Waterloo, $23,391 
  • Town of Trafford, $73,263 

TOTAL $ 518,779 

Didn’t respond to state declining or accepting allocation

  • Town of Cardiff, $6,530.76 
  • Town of Goldville, $6,412 
  • Town of Haleburg, $11,874 
  • Town of McMullen, $1,068 
  • Town of North Johns $17,217 

TOTAL $ 43,103.02 

* This was the first tranche of money allocated last year. A second similar size allocation is coming later this year.

Source: Alabama Department of Finance



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