Sunday, November 27, 2022

Belville to inject $670k of Covid relief into general fund

Belville plans to spend $670,000 on revenue replacement, effectively freeing up that amount in its general fund to spend on its Riverwalk Park. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands Williams)

BELVILLE — Eighteen months after the American Rescue Plan Act dumped a collected $1.9 trillion into the laps of local governments, Belville is finally approaching spending its $670,000 share of funding.

Up to $10 million of APRA received can be spent on a long list of town programs, with no proof required the town actually lost money in those areas due to the pandemic.

Last year, tentative ideas were generated for the money to fund projects, but that summer the state informed municipalities the money should be allocated for broadband and cybersecurity. Then, earlier in the spring, it changed course again, advising small towns should use their funds for revenue replacement. 

The treasury department did not issue its final rule on the money until this March, a full year after ARPA passed.

According to Town Manager Athina Williams, Belville has been waiting for guidance before finalizing the town’s intentions. Town officials attended an ARPA training session in Wallace in October. The state treasurer and governor’s offices outline what the money is eligible for, how the town will report the expenditures and a conflict-of-interest policy, are all part of the latest guidance to the town. 

Commissioners signed off on a series of five resolutions Monday that will pave the way for funneling $670,000 into its general fund. 

The money will be used toward revenue replacement, effectively covering past town expenses and freeing up the same amount of money in the general fund. The town can spend it as it sees fit, though the UNC School of Government advises municipalities spend ARPA money on salaries, vehicles, capital projects and fringe benefits.

Williams said all the money will go toward the town’s Riverwalk Park expansion.

Belville is in the planning phase for adding 2,400 linear feet to the boardwalk section of the park which extends over a section of marsh on the Brunswick River. Mayor Mike Allen said the goal is to extend the boardwalk to the main section of the river.

“We want people to really get close to nature,” Allen said

The town has to front an estimated $1.8 million for the project with no start or completion date yet.

Williams said town staff is working on more resolutions to comply with treasury regulations the commissioners can expect to see during the December meeting.

She anticipates nearby towns will follow suit. Kure Beach Town Council signed off on the same series of resolutions during its Oct. 24 meeting.

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