By Jamie Wiggan
Local governments are waiting patiently for sizable pay-outs approved in the latest round of Congressional stimulus spending.
Altogether, area municipalities are set to receive about a $5 million share of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
Kennedy and Coraopolis officials are already eyeing up specific projects for the funding, while others say they’re awaiting further details before committing to details. The payouts are expected in two parts, with the first due within 90 days of the bill’s passage and another to be disbursed sometime during the following nine months.
According to the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, permitted uses for the funding are strictly limited to addressing emergency costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, providing premium pay to essential employees, shoring up services affected by the pandemic and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Ray McCutcheon, manager at Coraopolis, said his community is expecting two installments of approximately $266,000 each.
He is recommending council apply the first installment to repairing a damaged water line on a two-block section of Wood Street, where the brick surface has been disrupted by the damage.
“The timing of this is unbelievable,” McCutcheon said. “[The road’s] in pretty bad shape…this will be a huge help.”
McCutcheon estimates the first installment will cover “80-90%” of the total cost involved in replacing the damaged water line, reinforcing the parallel length of the sewer line and repaving the whole two-block section with curb-to-curb asphalt.
McCutcheon has identified another damaged water line affecting portions of School Street as a possible candidate for the remaining funds, expected later in the year.
Mel Weinstein, Kennedy’s tax collector, treasurer, and interim manager, said he’s awaiting more details about the scope of the payouts but thinks the township could use the funds for needed sewage repairs. Weinstein said there are 13 deteriorating manholes along a section of sewer line running below Creek Road that the township has put off replacing in efforts to save money.
“[Replacing the manholes] would be one of our highest priorities,” he said. “...We probably should have replaced it five years ago, but we’re stretching and stretching.”
During his monthly report delivered April 6, Robinson Manager Frank Piccolino said he’s been in contact with other members of the Pennsylvania Municipal League to determine how the funds can be spent. He said he understood from those discussions details are still being worked out by the U.S. Department of Treasury but would recommend prioritizing the township’s expected $1.37 million share for stormwater upgrades.
“If they allow stormwater, I think we can use the money for those projects,” he said.
Other officials contacted either did not return requests for comment or indicated they were awaiting more information about the bill before making spending determinations.