WILKINSON — Officials have decided to use the town’s first allotment from a federal pandemic relief program to benefit sewer customers, public safety personnel and a sewer project.
The town of Wilkinson is getting about $100,000 from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, part of the American Rescue Plan Act, and has received the first half of that amount. Funds can be used to support public health expenditures; address negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic; replace lost public sector revenue; provide pay for essential workers; and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
Wilkinson Town Council members decided to use the first half of the recovery funds at its disposal to pay two months of customers’ sewer bills, give $500 to each of the town’s police officers and firefighters, and put what remains toward a sewer project on South First Street.
Janette Young, Wilkinson clerk-treasurer, said the town’s sewer utility has about 150 accounts.
“They thought that since it was COVID-related, that the citizens deserve a part of it,” she said of the council’s decision to share relief dollars with ratepayers. “They thought that giving them a couple free months on their sewer was one of the easiest ways of giving everybody in town this benefit.”
Young said leaders also wanted to recognize police officers’ and firefighters’ hard work throughout the pandemic. The town has about seven police officers and about 15 active firefighters.
Matt Decker, Wilkinson’s fire chief, was pleasantly surprised by the decision.
“We’re very appreciative they thought of us in that manner,” he said. “Especially being a town the size it is, and the amount of money they’re going to hand out to police and fire is a good percentage of that money.”
The sewer project the town is putting the remaining funds toward consists of digging down to a faulty pipe to determine what’s wrong with it, Young said, adding work should begin by the end of the year.
“We have quite a sewer project for our town coming up that we can use the money for,” she said.
The Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund is delivering $350 billion for state, local, territorial and Tribal governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recipients will get half of their allocations this year and half next year. All told, governments in Hancock County are getting more than $25 million.
The county government, which is receiving about $15 million, is working on a process to distribute some of its share to nonprofit groups. Local governments also have formed committees to discuss how to distribute the funds.
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Wilkinson pandemic relief funds
- Two months of customers’ sewer bills
- $500 to each police officer and firefighter
- Remaining toward sewer project on South First Street