City To Purchase Pickup Trucks with COVID Grant Funds

September 6, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville will be receiving a total of $71,895 in grant funding under a coronavirus relief effort called the Tennessee Local Government Reimbursement Program. The funding is being allocated to eligible local governments on a per capita basis.

The Aldermen Friday night voted to spend the money from the grant to purchase a total of three F150 trucks for the water and sewer departments.

Governor Bill Lee and the state’s bipartisan Financial Stimulus Accountability Group recently announced that an additional $115 million in coronavirus relief funds would be made available to local governments to offset costs incurred from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program comes in addition to the $210 million in grants for county and municipal governments approved by the General Assembly in the state’s 2021 budget. The City of Smithville’s portion from that grant was $135,000 and specific projects have already been identified and budgeted for this year.

During Friday nights meeting, Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor informed the Mayor and Aldermen how the city may spend its allocation of almost $72,000 under the Local Government Reimbursement Program.

“We first have to spend the money and then request that it be reimbursed. It has to be spent for the right things related to COVID-19 issues. Based on the needs of the city in regard to COVID-19 we believe the water and sewer department and sewer rehabilitation could each use a new vehicle to keep our employees spread out by traveling (to job sites) in different vehicles. We got quotes from a dealership in Murfreesboro based on the state bid and those three vehicles that Public Works Director Kevin (Robinson) said would be suitable for us to use (F150s) total $74,368. Our grant is almost $72,000 so the city will need to fund a little bit, $2, 473 to get that qualified. We have to spend it by November 1. I would like to go ahead and get those ordered and paid for so we can get that requested and covered. I just want you to take that action to get this process started,” said Jackson.

“This pandemic has required a high level of coordination and support across all levels of government to ensure local needs are met and the health and wellbeing of Tennesseans are protected,” Governor Lee said. “The Financial Stimulus Accountability Group has provided another round of funding as we work to reduce any financial barriers in COVID-19 response.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented our local governments with unique challenges specific to the needs of their people. Giving local governments control over how to spend these dollars maximizes efficiency and ensures this money is deployed in the most effective way possible,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said. “As we adjust to the new normal of living and working with COVID-19, it is important that local governments have the resources they need to attack the virus and address the issues it creates.”

Expenses paid for by the reimbursement program should fall within one of the following categories:
•Medical Expenses
•Public Health Expenses
•Payroll Expenses Related to COVID-19
•Public Health Compliance Expenses
•Other Reasonably Necessary Expenses Incurred in Response to the COVID-19 public
Health emergency.

“Directing additional funds to local governments will ensure they can continue to effectively meet the needs of their residents,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “COVID-19 related decisions and expenses whether in health care, education, or in other areas will be with us for the foreseeable future.”

Funds from the CRF may not be used to replace lost government revenue. Funds also may not be used for expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal programs.