Greenwood maps US bailout spending

Millions of dollars in federal aid began pouring into local governments this month, and Greenwood officials are figuring out what to do with it.

Part of the massive $ 1.9 trillion U.S. relief plan passed by Congress in March allocated $ 350 billion to states and local governments to help close the revenue gaps related to the pandemic.

Local governments in Johnson County received a total of $ 50 million, with Greenwood making the most of all towns and cities at nearly $ 9 million.

The city is required to put all the money in a separate fund and send the US Treasury a plan on how it will be spent, said Greg Wright, Controller of Greenwood. The spending plan was presented to Greenwood City Council at its meeting earlier this month.

The plan remains generalized as city officials did not specify exact details on where the money is going. Typically, relief funds would go towards lost revenue, downtown improvement, sewer infrastructure works, and city employee allowances.

Almost 30%, or roughly $ 2.5 million, would go to current or future revenue losses as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

User-generated funding, which comes from events such as the Freedom Festival and summer concerts, and recreation services such as the Freedom Springs Aquatic Center, has made the bulk of the impact, has Wright said. The city has lost thousands of people by canceling the Freedom Festival and opening Freedom Springs later than normal last year.

“Any of those things that people would have come to but couldn’t, we lost that money right off the bat,” Wright said.

Another concern is how much the city has lost in tax revenue, which is unlikely to be determined until next year, when the state can come up with new revenue estimates, he said. For this reason, the city has frozen almost all departmental budgets this year to play it safe.

“In the longer term, our concern is that we might see cuts in things like gasoline taxes, income taxes, property taxes,” Wright said. “These things tend to be two years behind, so we probably won’t know until next year, when we start getting our revenue estimates.”

The largest portion, $ 3 million, would go towards HVAC upgrades in downtown Greenwood, fire apparatus upgrades, and network and network security improvements.

One of the challenges the city faced in securing this large sum was knowing what to use it for, which was not already managed by the state or county. For example, one of the approved uses of the money is to fund testing and vaccination sites, contact tracing, or enforcement of local warrants. Most of them are run by the state or county, not cities and towns, Wright said.

Greenwood has found the greatest value in devoting relief funds to improving technology in the downtown area and for employees working from home by paying for Zoom services and network upgrades.

“A lot of people were trying to work remotely, and what we found was that our setup wasn’t enough to support as many people as we tried to work remotely at the time,” he said. Wright said. “We are trying to develop our network so that if it happens again, we are ready.”

Updating the downtown HVAC system will increase security as the pandemic continues, he said.

“At City Hall, maybe we could do things to improve filtration, which would make it a safer place for employees and the public,” Wright said.

About $ 2.7 million would go to projects to improve Greenwood’s aging sewer systems. Improving infrastructure is a new approved expense that COVID-19 relief funds could be used on, as previous packages did not allow it.

Greenwood has six sewer improvement projects lined up this year, totaling $ 56.6 million; $ 34.8 million of this money is for Phase Two of the West Regional Interceptor sewer line replacement – the largest capital project in the city’s history – and 7 , $ 5 million to replace the sewer lining.

The projects are part of a capital improvement plan to fix Greenwood’s ailing sewer systems, which prompted IDEM to step in in 2012 after constant overflows became a problem. The COVID-19 relief money will be used to offset some of these costs.

The smaller portion of the remaining money, around $ 750,000, is expected to be allocated to potential allowances for city employees. That money could be broken down into one-time bonuses for city staff for working through the pandemic, Wright said.

It would be similar to how Hamilton County plans to use its $ 65 million in relief funds to give $ 3,000 in allowances to its 900 county employees. Details on how much would go to each employee in the Town of Greenwood have not been determined.

City council will review the spending plan two more times before a final vote at its June 7 meeting.

In numbers

Here’s a look at how Greenwood plans to spend nearly $ 9 million in US bailout money:

$ 3 million for downtown Greenwood HVAC upgrades, fire apparatus upgrades, and network and network security upgrades.

$ 2.7 million to complete infrastructure projects that will expand water and sanitary sewer lines and repair the city’s aging sewer system.

$ 2.5 million to recover lost revenue as a result of the pandemic.

$ 750,000 for bonuses paid to city employees.

Source: Town of Greenwood

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