More towns discuss Rescue Plan funds as deadline looms

  • The Souhegan River at Mill Street in Greenville. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/12/2021 2:35:33 PM

Next week marks an application deadline for towns seeking the first half of funds earmarked for them by the American Rescue Plan Act. The funds, part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed on March 11, are broadly intended to help local governments meet pandemic response needs and bounce back with a stronger and more equitable economy, according to a federal fact sheet.

Dublin, Greenville, New Ipswich and Rindge have all discussed the funds since the Ledger-Transcript initially asked local towns how they were likely to spend their allocations at the end of July. A total of $161,536 is earmarked for Dublin, $220,895 for Greenville, $564,591 for New Ipswich, and $637,560 for Rindge. Each town can receive a maximum dollar amount calculated by their 2019 population. Applications are currently open for the first half of total funds, with the second pool of funds available next year. Monies can be spent on public health, repairing COVID-19-related economic damage, recovering lost public revenue, providing premium pay for essential workers, and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, according to the federal fact sheet.

In Dublin, each department head in town will be able to apply for funds after the town formally receives its allotment, Town Administrator Kate Fuller said. Although the town is waiting to make decisions until they receive the money, they’ve already received a request to use some funds to replace the emergency services department’s 12-lead heart monitor, she said.

Greenville had a public hearing at the end of July and has filed to receive the funds, Town Administrator Tara Sousa said. Although the town anticipates using a substantial portion of the funds for water and sewer projects, public hearing attendees also suggested using the funds to expand broadband internet to underserved areas in town, or investing in vehicles for the Fire Department. “We haven’t officially settled on anything, but we’re committed to accepting the funds,” Sousa said, and are exploring what projects do and don’t fall under the grant’s guidelines.

Just in the past couple months, Greenville learned they can install a chemical feed building at the wastewater treatment plant to bring the wastewater’s copper and aluminum levels into compliance, rather than installing a tertiary treatment system at an even greater cost, Sousa said. Getting the town’s wastewater quality to comply with the protected Souhegan River’s stricter standards is “probably the most pressing project that has a substantial price tag,” she said.

Broadband and public safety improvements have dominated talks in New Ipswich, interim Town Administrator Jim Coffey said, but no final decisions have been made other than agreeing to apply for the funds. “Certainly we can find a use for that money for improvements in the town,” he said, though he noted that a new police station “will cost a lot more than that.” A public hearing to discuss the funds formally is yet to be scheduled, he said.

In Rindge, no formal conversations about the grant have happened to date, Town Administrator Sara Gravell said, but Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief Rick Donovan is applying for it. More discussion will follow, she said, but dates have not been scheduled.

Sharon ($38,630 earmarked in total) has not discussed the funds yet, Select Board member Diane Callahan said. Their next public meeting is Aug. 22 in the Old Schoolhouse.

Representatives from Antrim ($281,615), Bennington ($158,710), and Mason ($150,020) didn’t return requests for comment by press time.


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