Sumner County government, schools and cities could receive up to $94 million from a federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill aimed at mitigating the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan includes $350 billion in direct aid to state and local governments based on the number of unemployed residents at the end of 2020.
It also includes extending expanded unemployment benefits; $1,400 direct payments to individuals who make less than $75,000 a year and couples who make less than $150,000; emergency paid leave for more than 100 million Americans; grants to small businesses; extended food stamp benefits; $21.6 billion for rental assistance programs; funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and testing; and $130 billion for K-12 schools.
Tennessee will receive $6.1 billion in direct aid under the plan, including $1.3 billion to the state’s counties, $530 million to metropolitan cities and $430 million to non-metropolitan cities and towns.
Officials in Sumner County were notified of how much their governments would be receiving by Congressman John Rose’s office on the same day the bill was signed.
However, they say they’re still waiting for guidance on how the money can be spent.
Sumner County government could receive up to $37 million – more than half of its annual operating budget of $70 million. The city of Gallatin could receive up to $11.5 million while the city of Hendersonville could receive up to $5.5 million.
Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt was hesitant to confirm the amount earlier this week, admitting he wasn’t sure yet what the money can be used for.
“We have received zero direction,” Holt said. “I don’t even think the state has any direction about how to budget the money.”
Holt said he and several other mayors met with Sen. Marsha Blackburn via teleconference last week when he specifically asked what restrictions would be placed on the funds.
“Nobody wants to know more than I do what the guidelines are for these funds,” he said.
Holt said he does expect the money to be used for one-time capital projects and not for recurring costs like payroll for employees.
“Hopefully the criteria will be broad enough so that we can use the money to help with some of the infrastructure issues we’re having now as our population continues to expand,” he said.
Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary was told his city is eligible to receive up to $5.5 million with some restrictions.
“And I’m still trying to figure out what the restrictions are,” said Clary. At first Clary thought the city could use the funds for paving roads and paying down debt. Now, he’s not so sure.
“The most specific information I’ve seen is that the money could be used for water, sewer or broadband,” he said. The city of Hendersonville doesn’t provide any of these services.
“Does it mean we could partner with these companies? We don’t know the possibilities yet,” he said.
Clary says the good news is that officials have until 2024 to spend the money.
“I want to tell my aldermen what the possibilities are but I don’t want to get their hopes up, and I’m sure every other mayor is in the same situation,” he said.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee schools will receive around $2.4 billion for K-12 education. The Sumner County School district will receive $31.4 million, according to Department of Education Director of Communications Victoria Robinson.