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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Arguing ARPA 

Council discusses budget details

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

Grayson city council had a light agenda during their regular meeting last Tuesday, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have items to discuss.  

Councilman Troy Combs began the meeting by requesting a profit/loss and a payroll report be added to the budget report each month. Combs said he felt this information would be helpful to council in understanding city processes and preparing future budgets.  

Combs wasn’t the only one interested in continuing discussion of the budget. So was councilman Willis Johnson; specifically, the recently passed budget which relies heavily on ARPA funds to cover city expenditures.  

During discussion of old business Johnson asked about the legality of moving general fund expenditures around so that ARPA funds could be used to cover specific line items. Specifically, he worried about the fiscal responsibility of using the ARPA funds to balance the budget, and whether the federal government could force the city to pay back ARPA funds if they found they acted improperly.  

The specific action that prompted Johnson’s concern appeared to be moves to shift general funds from certain operating costs line items to equipment line items in the street department, and using ARPA funds to then cover those operating costs.  

Johnson said if it was found to be improper the city could find itself “$50,000 in the hole.”  

Combs, however, said there was no danger of the city going into debt. He said they had budgeted spending in anticipation of those ARPA funds, and they simply needed to make sure they pay for items within the guidelines.  

Guidelines, he noted, which had changed between the first and second check to allow for more flexible use. Specifically, Combs said, the rules relating to operating costs being an allowable expenditure meant they could use those ARPA funds for electrical utility payments for the street department, since it was a necessary operating expense.  

City attorney Jason Greer confirmed that the rules had changed between the receipt of the two checks and told council he would look into the latest provisions to make sure the city was operating within the bounds of those rules.  

In other action, council approved a request from the street department to solicit bids for a skid loader. Council also heard an informal park board update from Don Combs. Mayor Steele noted that the park was already “doing what it was supposed to do” by bringing in folks who are staying in city hotels and eating at local restaurants. He also discussed the possibility of bringing the road through the park into the city road system and helping the park pave it to keep dust down.  

Hometown Holidays 

Though Combs was happy to provide information on the park in an informal capacity, he came to council to discuss this year’s Hometown Holidays celebration. He informed council that he’s already put in a request with the state to close a portion of Main Street from Lansdowne to the municipal parking lot just before Carol Malone Boulevard.  

Mayor George Steele was happy to inform council that the construction should be complete and Carol Malone completely open by the time of the event too. He said the state told him they expect to have the street fully open by sometime in November.  

Combs invited council members and any interested citizens to come out to the next planning session, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today (Wednesday, October 19), at Johnny’s Pizza on Main Street in Grayson.  

Councilman Johnson also addressed council in his capacity as an officer of the local Kiwanis Club, asking for their help in preparing a number of meal kits that the club will be donating to local families this holiday season. Johnson said that on the evening of November 17 the club and volunteers will meet at the Grayson Bingo Hall to prepare 25,000 meals for distribution in eastern Kentucky. Half of those meals will go to areas in southeastern Kentucky impacted by flooding this year, while the other half will be distributed in Carter, Boyd, and Morgan counties. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com 



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