AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Some Aiken County leaders are tossing around ideas of how to spend American Rescue Plan funds.
The county is receiving more than $33 million. An ad-hoc committee is working hard to be fiscally conservative according to county council chairman Gary Bunker. The committee met Thursday to hammer out some proposals.
“We will have to live within the 33.5 million value and also at the same time we are staying within the guidelines that the federal government is giving for these funds,” said Bunker.
The committee is made of four council members. Camille Furgiuele, Kelley Mobley, Sandy Haskell, and Bunker are all on it. Funds can be used to restore cuts in public services, lost revenues and to build infrastructure.
“Part of the problem that we’re facing right now is that some of those guidelines are either vague or there’s room for interpretation,” explained Bunker.
As the committee discussed potential projects that would be an option, everyone is on board with recommending $15 million to the county council to expand the jail for female inmates. Bunker remarked the jail has been overcrowded for years.
He said, “By building an additional pod or two with this funding we will be able to not only reduce the overcrowding but also spread out the prisoners.”
The committee is considering a suggestion for each district to receive $1 million in relief funds. It would be a total of $10 million.
“The chairman would receive two million. Now as you heard in the discussion, there is, shall we say, a lot of disagreement over that right now, and on the committee, we have two members who are in favor of the split by district approach. And there are two members who are not in favor,” said Bunker.
Bunker added he would like to see the American Rescue funds go more toward long-term capital projects. The ad-hoc committee will meet again in September to finalize recommendations.
If finalized, the ideas would go before the county council and there will be a three reading ordinance process.