Members of the Cartersville City Council voted unanimously Thursday evening to adopt a resolution allowing the municipality to pursue federal funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to City documents, the municipality has been allocated a total funding amount of $1,139,085.66.
“We’re eligible for about $341,000 for phase one, round one,” said Cartersville City Manager Tamara Brock. “Round two, still in phase one, is a significant bit more money that can be used for revenue replacement.”
Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini said municipalities throughout Georgia have been waiting weeks to receive the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) allotments.
“The State dropped the money back in June,” he said. “They actually contracted with a third-party vendor to handle all of this for them … I think about three, maybe four weeks ago, they decided to part ways with the vendor.”
Under the terms and conditions of the grant agreement, Brock said the City has to justify all of its expenditures.
“There’s a lot of public safety that can be included,” she said. “There’s some gray area — we have the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) stuff going on at the same time, we’ll do the CARES Act funding first because it’s more time sensitive … what’s eligible under FEMA and GEMA is not necessarily eligible under the CARES Act, so we’re going to submit our expenses that we’ve kept track of and let them tell us what’s eligible.”
Whereas the CRF distributions are a dollar-for-dollar match, Brock said the FEMA and GEMA municipal-level payouts come out to about 70 cents on the dollar.
The federal funding is authorized for eligible expenditures from March 1 to Dec. 30 of this year. Under the agreement, the City of Cartersville would be required to return all non-expended funds received via the GeorgiaCARES management system back to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget before the end of the year.
“Funds may not be used to fill shortfalls in government revenue to cover expenditures that would not otherwise qualify under the statute,” the agreement reads. “Revenue replacement is not a permissible use of these grant funds …. all records and expenditures are subject to review.”
Brock said the revenue thresholds are flexible, noting that the second round of CRF distributions could be used for personnel time as well as utility-based income losses.
The CRF money also cannot be used to pay for damages covered by insurance, severance compensation or legal settlements. Nor can it be used for “payroll or benefits expenses for employees whose work duties are not substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
The document lists just two “authorized users” under the GeorgiaCARES agreement — City of Cartersville Finance Director Tom Rhinehart and Brock, who announced she was resigning as Cartersville's city manager just hours after Thursday’s city council meeting adjourned.
Santini is listed as an “authorized representative of the grantee” in the agreement, with the document indicating that he has the authority, on behalf of the municipality, to “request grant payments from the State for federal funds appropriated pursuant to” the CARES Act.
Council members also voted unanimously to apply for a $252,241.77 local maintenance improvement grant (LMIG) via the Georgia Department of Transportation.
City of Cartersville Public Works Director Tommy Sanders said the City intends to use the funding to pay off a portion of an estimated $740,000 resurfacing project, which would include stretches of Center Road, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Walnut Grove Road, among several other roadways.
The remainder of the funding for the project, Sanders said, would come from 2020 SPLOST funds.
He noted that the grant does require a 30% local match. At a work session held prior to Thursday evening’s council meeting, Sanders said last year’s grant amount was $283,800.
“So it’s down a pretty good chunk,” he said.
Council members also voted unanimously to approve a traffic signal maintenance agreement with the City of Rome.
“They have certified traffic signal engineers, they have people that are highly qualified in the actual devices that go on traffic control equipment,” said City of Cartersville Electric Department Director Derek Hampton. “That includes them doing annual inspections and also doing repair work for us on an as-needed basis.”
Although a department summary recommendation report specifies the agreement is a budgeted item, City documents do not indicate the monetary value of the contract.
The council also heard the first readings of — but took no actions on — a slate of proposed millage rates.
Rhinehart said the proposed 2020 Cartersville Business Improvement District (BID) millage rate is set at 1.279 mills, while the proposed 2020 Cartersville City School System millage rate is set at 14.576 mills.
“The proposed 2020 millage rate of 14.576 mills is considered to be above the 2020 rollback rate of 12.964 mills,” a department summary recommendation reads. “As a result, the City and the City School Board are required to hold three public hearings for the public to voice their opinions about the proposed tax increases.”
Rhinehart said the first hearing is slated for Aug. 13 at 5 p.m., while the second hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20 at 8 a.m. The third and final public hearing is planned for 7 p.m. on Aug. 20. All of the hearings will be held in the council chambers at 10 North Public Square.
The proposed City of Cartersville maintenance and operations millage rate for 2020 is set at 2.910 mills while the proposed general obligation parks and recreation bond millage rate is set at 0.728 mills.
The bonds were issued following a referendum vote in 2014 and entail a 10-year payback period.
“The millage rate for this will fluctuate over the 10 years and will need to be set with a millage large enough to cover the semi-annual bond payments," a department summary recommendation reads.
Council members closed out the meeting by voting unanimously to approve the purchase of a utility easement associated with the Rogers Station water main project.
“We are at the point where we are anticipating crossing Cassville Road, and doing so, both working with the contractor and with our design engineer, we have noticed it might be to our advantage to take a different route,” said City of Cartersville Water Department Director Bob Jones. “There’s no increase in cost to the project, but what it does is locate our line in such a way that when the eventual intersection improvement comes from Iron Belt and Cassville Road, we will be out of the way and not have to incur any costs to move this line again somewhere down the road.”
Other items unanimously approved by council members at Thursday evening’s meeting include:
— An administrative request to pay USIS $10,147.50 for costs associated with processing City workers compensation claims.
— A fire department request to approve up to $12,000 in funding for various repairs at Fire Station No. 4.
— A water department request to pay the Environmental Protection Division $9,200 for water quality testing services.
— A water department request to approve up to $12,000 in funding for repairs to a semi-tractor truck used for hauling biosolids at the water pollution control plant.
— A parks and recreation department request to renew contracts for seven program providers: Belle Femme USA, LLC; Cartersville Senior Fit; Elite Athletics, Inc.; Halftime Sports; Newtown Recreation, doing business as North Georgia Rec; Top Shelf Food and Beverage Management, LLC; and Wire2Wire Running, LLC.