Farragut may receive more than $6 million in Congressional funding from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, but it will be some time before officials know for sure how much the Town might receive.
While the legislation included $1,400 checks for most Americans and relief money for state and local governments, a press release from Tennessee Municipal League indicated the distribution criteria and process for those funds is still being determined.
Under the Plan, municipalities are separated into two categories – “entitlement communities,” any city designated as the principal city in the metropolitan statistical area, and “non-entitlement communities,” which includes municipalities with populations of less than 50,000, which would include Farragut.
As an entitlement community, Knoxville, may potentially receive $43.9 million, according to initial figures, while Farragut’s initial estimate was $6.374 million.
Eligible uses of the federal funding distributed to local governments include:
• Replacement of measurable revenue loss “due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year” prior to the emergency;
• Premium pay for eligible workers (as determined by the Gov. Bill Lee) performing essential work, providing up to $13 per hour above regular wages; and
• Water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
In announcing the potential funding, the TML press release noted, “The information contained herein reflects our best understanding of the relevant provisions. It is not uncommon for initial communications relating the details of federal bills of this size and scope to be incomplete or imprecise.
“Moreover, as the language will have to be interpreted and implemented by various federal and state entities, additional guidance and clarification is to be expected,” the release further stated. “Additionally, there are conditions and limitations associated with the use of these monies.
“As such, it would be premature to enter into any preparations that are reliant on these federal funds until these conditions and limitations are more fully understood. ...”
Trevor Hobbs, assistant to the Town administrator, expanded a bit, saying last week, “In regard to funding, my understanding is that some general categories of permitted uses have been identified, but the Treasury Department has yet to issue rules for the funding, which ultimately will provide details about exactly what the funding can be used for.
“Also, it is my understanding that for the funding coming directly to local governments, that municipalities are being added to the program, and this may change the amounts of money that each municipality can receive,” he added.
“Because things are still developing at the federal level, the Town will know more once rules are released. For now, since the Town is going through its budget process, including a six-year outlook, we will be well positioned to know what projects we would like to use the funding for.”