BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The city of Fort Madison will be receiving close to $1.4 million in federal aid as part of the recently passed federal stimulus package.
City Manager David Varley updated the council on the breakdown of the federal aid at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Fort Madison City Council.
The American Rescue Plan Act includes $65 billion for local governments across the country. The Lee County Board of Supervisors just announced they will be getting an estimated $6.5 million in aid.
One of the caveats of the aid payments is that it cannot be used for debt or property tax relief.
Varley said a change that occurred in the U.S. Senate, opened up Fort Madison to see funds from the new law.
He said the U.S. Treasury had 60 days from passage of the law to get the money to the states, who in turn have 30 days to get the money to the cities. The bill was signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday, March 11.
Varley said there is also a requirement that the city make regular reports to the federal government on what they are using the money for.
“When they first came out with the bill out of the House, there were four requirements that governed the use of the funds and we really didn’t meet any of those requirements,” Varley said.
“But the Senate changed it, bless their hearts, and they changed the fourth requirement and now it says it can include water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. So now we will have the legal authority to spend the money we get on water, sewer or broadband.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Bowker asked then if the city wouldn’t need to raise water and sewer rates again. Varley said they wouldn’t need to raise the rates if the city didn’t want to complete required sanitary and storm water sewer separation requirements, called CSO (combined sewer overflow) projects currently mandated by the EPA. The city is currently looking for extension to current federal deadlines on those projects.
He said West Point will get $130,000 and Keokuk will get $1.41 million. Fort Madison is projected to get $1.43 million.
He said the funds have to be used by the end of 2024.
Varley said he’s hearing that the Biden Administration is also looking at another stimulus package that could provide $2 trillion and some of that would be earmarked for shovel-ready projects.
In other action, the council:
• approved, 6-1, an amendment to Title 2 of the city code under the Construction Board of Appeals to add application language, and adding a new section for appeals to the City Fire Code. Councilwoman Rebecca Bowker voted against the measure due to the fee structure.
• approved the appointment of Jacqueline Lumsden and Jill Stull to the City Park Board.
• approved an agreement with Ahlers & Cooney P.C. for services to prepare an Amendment to the city’s Urban Revitalization Plan.