Lee County Pursues Designation of ARPA Funds
BY HANNAH LESTER
LEE COUNTY —
The Lee County commission voted late Monday to allocate more U.S. bailout funds to Loachapoka Park and the Environmental Services Fund.
“During the pandemic, we’ve noticed an increase in the amount of money being spent on transfer station bills from people cleaning up,” County Administrator Holly Leverette said. “Now we are also seeing a continued decline in our budget with the sidewalk, so we are asking you all to allocate an additional $500,000 of ARPA funds to Environmental Services Fund 140 to help offset some of these expenses. “
Two-year transfer station bills have increased due to the effects of the pandemic and have yet to decline, Leverette said.
District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham clarified that means the county was using two systems — transfer stations and curbside pickup, which Leverette confirmed. He asked what the sites will be used for when the transfer stations are closed.
“As we complete the transition from our previous traditional system that we have in place to the curb, as well as the bulk pickup provided by the county, Mr. McDonald and I, along with the decisions of the commissions, will decide what to do with it. the sites we own,” County Engineer Justin Hardee said. “About half of the sites that existed were leased or agreed upon properties, and so the remaining half will then see if there is a way for the county to continue to use those properties, either by possibly creating – when the sites are quite large and can be fenced off, so you can control the hours of use – possibly setting up recycling facilities.
Ham expressed that he was in favor of recycling.
“It just helps the landfills last longer,” he said. “People want to recycle and we need to make it as easy as possible for them.”
Hardee said that as the transition continues, the Beauregard and southeast corner sites will close. The Beulah site has already done this.
“All sites will be closed by the second week of November,” he said.
The commission also voted to allocate $250,000 to Loachapoka Park.
Leverette said the funding would come from the $10 million fund which has fewer restrictions on how it is spent.
Loachapoka has approximately $300,000 in the park fund, and the additional $250,000 will add up to an approximate total of $550,000.
“Ryan has expressed an interest in not depleting all of those funds because the recreation association will also need some of that money for recreation,” Leverette said.
Of that $550,000, Leverette said the county plans to use $250,000.
The pavilion the county wants to build, however, may be cheaper than expected, which was quoted at $187,000.
Leverette said it was more elaborate than the county wanted and that with $500,000 (the $250,000 budget and the additional $250,000 allocated), the park can be completed.
“Some of you will recall after the 3-3-19 tornadoes that we were eligible for a Risk Mitigation Grant through FEMA for Individual Storm Shelters or Individual Security Rooms” , said EMA director Rita Smith. “This process should take less than a year.”
However, the process was delayed due to the pandemic.
In 2020, when Smith first presented the information, the project seemed to cost around $45,000 to $46,000.
“Well, the good news is, no,” she said. “If you do the breakdown, we had 156 citizens that we notified and expressed interest in applying. So we told them everything from A to Z, no shovel down until you’re approved, what you have to do is a 75/25% split, you have to pay everything upfront if you are approved, file a 75% refund – and so that’s down to 118 citizens who actually applied for this grant.
Twenty-six others later withdrew, Smith said. A total of 92 applied and completed the process. The total cost to the county was $35,600.
The EMA received $32,207 in management fees, which the organization paid into a special fund. In total, the county lost only $3,393.
– The commission discussed signing a waiver in an opioid lawsuit settlement in which the county did not participate. No action was taken on Monday evening.
– The commission approved an Adopt-A-Mile application for Cynthia Rogers for LR 086.
– The commission approved an application for a beer and table wine retail license for the Quick Stop.
– The commission heard an overview report on the county’s resurfacing program.