Local organizations could help many with ARPA grants
Published 10:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2021
Gov. Brian Kemp recently authorized the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget to coordinate and accept applications for $4.8 billion to be expended under the State Fiscal Relief Fund. The funding would be used pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act for the use of COVID recovery, water and infrastructure and broadband expansion.
During a lengthy discussion at the LaGrange City Council’s work session on Tuesday, local entities came forward to discuss their applications and explain the projects they’d use the money for if awarded part of the funding.
The LaGrange City Council approved all the submissions and passed a singular resolution to approve seven applications during its regular meeting Tuesday evening. Four of the applications were from area organizations, and the others were from the city for improvements.
In this round, the state has $300 million in grant funds to distribute to various communities.
The applicants do not need to be local governments, and many applicants are expected to be nonprofits or agencies. The applicants do need to fit into the three categories of COVID recovery, water and infrastructure or broadband expansion.
“Since this is not the first time this is being done, there is not a lot of guidance out there for what [the state is] is looking for,” said LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton.
“There is some guidance to how they plan to evaluate and score the applications, but at the end of the day, these legislative committees will be making recommendations to the governor, but the governor retains the discretion of how much of these funds [are given] to how many of these applicants.”
Thornton said LaGrange, Troup County, Hogansville and West Point all received ARPA funding from the state.
Applications to the Georgia Jobs and Infrastructure Committees must be filed no later than Aug. 31 with subsequent grants to be announced the week of Oct.18, according to the city’s resolution.
The city council has no say in which applications are chosen and which are not, Thornton emphasized during the work session.
“We’re not going to get all the resources here for all of these things,” Thornton said.
“Not all of these are going to be approved by the government, but this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address some of these concerns that have been on our minds and on our radars for a long time.”
Here’s a breakdown of the applications discussed Tuesday:
DASH of LaGrange, a sustainable housing development organization, sought funds to put toward future Hillside West Gateway development, a series of 16 affordable housing duplexes that consist of mostly area median income (AMI) housing that would be built on the corner of Jackson St. and Jenkins St.
The project would cost an estimated $2.3 million, said DASH’s executive director Nate Crawford. He asked for $250,000 in city ARPA funds on top of a requested $1 million in ARPA funds from the state.
“Our target market would be the 80% AMI that are employed at WellStar West Georgia,” Crawford said.
“Nearly 30% of their employees are at that 80% threshold…”
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF LAGRANGE
The Housing Authority of the City of LaGrange is interested in funding renovation and repurposing of the Unity School campus, for the provision of community services, including tutoring services, mental health services, childcare services and public transportation services.
The Troup County School System has agreed that the school would be given to the LaGrange Housing Authority, said Zsa Zsa Heard, executive director of the LaGrange Housing Authority. The campus is worth $2 million but needs $4 million worth of renovation work, she said.
SEWER INFILTRATION SYSTEM
The city is requesting $2 million to revitalize the more deteriorated parts of the city’s sewer system.
City Manager Meg Kelsey said a recent bond of $2 million was issued to deal with the problem of water entering the sewer system.
This is on top of other funds put toward reconstruction work on the sewer system over the last several years, Kelsey said.
“I think this would make a very strong application for us, and I think we can document very well the need that we have to solve some of these problems in our community,” she said.
The city is wanting to develop an 800-acre property off Mooty Bridge Road for water and sewer use in connection to fill a housing need in the area, Kelsey said.
The developer for the project would need $1 million to put water in the location, Kelsey said.
INNOVATIVE CDBG GRANT
Two years ago, the city was awarded a $2 million Community Development Block Grant to construct and maintain a training center for construction trades and renovate some housing.
Now, the city is requesting $4 million to renovate the Cannon Street School for a second location so that those training services may be expanded.
The Troup County Parks & Recreation Department requested funds to further its second and third phase renovation plans for the Griggs Center.
The total amount for all three phases of the project is an estimated $8 million.
The county is set to apply directly to the governor and use phase I as an incentive for further funding, Thornton said.
The city previously promised $2 million in ARPA funds as part of an agreement with the county to match the amount with another $2 million.
Troup County Parks & Recreation is set to receive a $2 million grant from the Callaway Foundation that will go toward the first phase of the renovation. This phase includes revitalizing the facility’s gymnasium.
New Ventures, a job training program in LaGrange, requested $500,000 to fund a 24-7 emergency shelter, multiple transitional housing pods and wrap-a-round human services support to assist those in the community who need emergency housing.
New Ventures recently obtained a matching $500,000 grant from the Callaway Foundation, said Anabeth Ivey, marketing and fund development manager for New Ventures.