By Elizabeth Perry
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act provided emergency funding to local governments.
Allegheny County was awarded $381 million of Pennsylvania’s $6.1 billion federal allotment.
The state dispersed the funds according to a formula, rewarding each county according to its population. From there Allegheny County doled out the funding to local governments designated as “non-entitlement units of local government,” and this was also based on population size. For every 1,000 residents, they were granted $20,000. When the population of an area hit more than 5,000 people, they were granted $25,000 per thousand residents.
Municipalities and townships were specifically told how they could and could not use the money. It is intended to make up revenue lost during the pandemic, continue to pay staff or invest in projects that improve infrastructure and those projects have to be planned out before the end of 2024. See how your local municipality is using the money it received:
Carnegie was awarded $817,047 in American Rescue Funds. Peter Mullins, council member, said the money has not yet been spent.
“We are currently planning on using it for infrastructure work surrounding our Main Street,” Mullins said.
The council was interested in replacing all the light poles along Main Street, and bringing the electrical wiring on the poles underground. They were planning to budget the expenditure into the 2023 budget.
“We’re not expecting it to cost the entire funds, so we’re on the lookout for other projects,” Mullins said.
In Coraopolis, the borough received $567,725. According to Manager Ray McCutcheon, the money has been used to mend water line breaks on Wood Street and to replace a sewer line from Highland Avenue down to 7th Avenue, including fixing the curb. The rest of the money has been saved for the roads program. McCutcheon said $400,000 has been reserved for paving.
Crafton was awarded $603,941.36 in total. According to Acting Manager Doug Sample, the first payment was used for upgrades to the community center, communication equipment for the police department and $100,000 for loss revenue allocated to the general fund due to the economic problems caused by shutdowns associated with the pandemic. Sample said the second half was planned for loss of revenue suffered by the borough.
Ingram Borough received $334,732. According to Treasurer Debbie Stecko, all of the money is earmarked for sewer projects.
Kennedy Township received $849,181. Treasurer and Tax Collector Mel Weinstein said the township used the first half of the money to make up losses they sustained in lost tax revenue and to replace broken sewer lines.
“People were short-changed, nobody worked,” Weinstein said.
The next disbursement will be used for replacing 17 manholes at a cost of about $400,000, Weinstein said.
“The manhole project is slated to be done next year,” Manager Greg Clarke said.
McKees Rocks received $612,838 in funding. The borough used American Rescue Plan funds for sewer and infrastructure projects and also to compensate for loss of revenue, said Manager LeeAnn Wozniak.
The Township of Neville received $109,274. Board Chairman Richard Rutter pointed out that the township got its second installment of the sum less than a month ago, and final decisions hadn’t been made on how to apply it.
“We’re redoing some water and sewer lines on Utah Avenue and we’ll probably put some of the Rescue Funds to that,” Rutter said.
The first half of the funding, which was dispersed to communities in the spring and summer of 2021, has been set aside for “Tot Lot” type playground equipment and repairing restrooms at Cottage Park.
Rutter said Neville didn’t get a lot of money because of the size of their community, but unlike more populated areas, which rely on a 1% income tax for revenue, their budget was not as impacted by the pandemic.
Robinson’s overall budget is up by 6% from American Rescue Plan funding. Robinson Township got $1,449,668, Much of the money has been dedicated to a vast stormwater planning project, according to Manager Frank Piccolino.
Stowe Township was awarded $640,680; as previously reported in Gazette 2.0, half of that money was placed in a savings account while the township decided how to apply the funding.
Board President Robin Parilla said the first installment of COVID-19 money was used to buy public works vehicles.
“We bought one pickup at $75,000, another dump truck at $65,000 salt with the grader, also during that, we were the only municipality township that didn't skip a beat, we were open the whole time."
Parilla said six employees got a $500 bonus each to compensate them.
Stowe was the only municipality in the area that did not close during the entirety of the pandemic.
They were also going to invest in catch basins and sewer repair.
There is $492,000 left, Parilla said, and they are planning on repaving Derby Alley and another alley behind the businesses on Broadway.
Parilla said they would apply a separate $125,000 grant to the paving and spend some of the money on the rest of the $400,000 project.