Darren Doyle, story:
Magistrates voted 6-0 today to spend $650,000 of the county's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for projects for the Edmonson County Water District.
The water projects were laid out by Edmonson Water General Manager Tony Sanders at a February fiscal court meeting, who then said the jobs totaling $1.1M would consist of improvements to multiple pump stations, new service to E Hack Road, and improvements on Luttrell Cemetery Road, Segal Road, Carl Ashley Road, and HWY 70. Edmonson Water was also recently awarded over $422K from the state, and if fiscal court voted to fund $650K, then they would be looking to make up around $200K to complete the project.
Today, Judge Executive Wil Cannon discussed why he wanted the fiscal court to approve the $650K expenditure and began by reminding the court that the original uses for the funds laid out by the government were for water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. Those requirements loosened greatly over the course of several months and were eventually dropped to nearly any sort of county business.
Cannon said in the early stages of the county's $2.3M ARPA funding talks, he reached out to Sanders and told him that money would be available for water projects and asked him for a list of potential projects that the water district would currently like to do but can't currently afford. Sanders later presented the list above that will have a total price tag of around $1.2M--$650 hopefully being funded by the county ARPA funds and the rest coming from state grant money. No funding has been committed by the water district itself for the outlined projects as of now.
Some of the magistrates asked questions, including District 3 Charlie Tarter, who asked how many miles of water line is serviced by the Edmonson District. Sanders said the county currently has 700 miles of water line in four different counties: Edmonson, Butler, Grayson, and Hart. He also asked Sanders why the water district was not planning to contribute their own money to the projects and Sanders said it was due to the current debt load they already have.
District 1 Magistrate Mark Meeks asked how would these projects be funded without the county's ARPA funding? Sanders said the water district would simply have to try for combinations of grants and loans.
Mag. Meeks also noted that the county would be spending more than 25% of it's total ARPA funding for water projects that would benefit approximately 10-15% of the county's entire population. He said the reason he was for the purchase of a $245K ambulance for Edmonson EMS was that an ambulance can benefit the entire county, not just a small percentage. Cannon said that these projects will help water loss from the old lines, which can help keep costs down for all water customers, not just a small percent.
Magistrate Johnny Brooks made a motion to spend $650K of the ARPA funding for the water projects, which was seconded by Magistrate Edd Rich. A roll call vote was requested by Judge Cannon and all magistrates voted in favor of the motion.
Sanders said the bidding, planning, and construction of the projects will likely be a 3-4 year process, not counting any unexpected delays.