Commissioners discuss options for Rescue Plan funds


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It’s not pennies from heaven, its tens of millions of dollars from Washington that commissioners will be putting to work.

“What the citizens need to enhance their quality of life, I think a lot of infrastructure will go into that,” said Commissioner Ben Hasan.

City Administrator Odie Donald filling in commissioners on how the 82 million dollars the city is set to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act can be put to use.

Donald saying the funds would allow, by next month, bonuses for public safety workers and to increase city government salaries to a minimum of $30,000 a year.

“You got individuals who are making $22,000 who can’t afford to keep up their cars, who can’t afford the purchase of a home, so this is a way for us to fix that,” said Mayor Hardie Davis. 

Another suggestion for the funding is to set aside 10 million dollars to be used on special projects in each commission district.

City leaders saying this money isn’t something commissioners would just dole out.

“The administrator would have to look at it, procurement would have to look at it, so you still have safety checks in place. Commissioners will not have a check book in their pockets where they can just write a check,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams.

“It’s not just about us and what we get it’s about our constituents. Whatever I get, I’m going to talk to constituents to see what’s best,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.

Donald saying these federal dollars must be used to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, but that leaves a lot of room for projects.

The Augusta area is suffering through COVID but this federal cash could ease some of that pain.

City Administrator Donald is recommending the commission hire consultants and create and Augusta Recovery committee to help review projects for funding.

Under the law the City has until 2026 to spend all the federal dollars.

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