Vernon to receive $353K in ARPA funds

VERNON – Members of Vernon City Council received welcomed news when they met in workshop Monday, August 2 with the announcement that the city is slated to receive roughly $57,000 more than anticipated in America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Early projections estimated Vernon would receive $296,000; however, new calculations predict the funds will come in around $353,601. The difference in allocation estimates is due to an error by Congressional staff, according to the Florida League of Cities.

“The original allocation estimates that were distributed around March have been determined to be inaccurate due to Congressional staff categorizing several municipalities incorrectly,” said a League of Cities representative in an email on Friday. “Official allocation figures and funding agreements should be available in coming weeks.”

While waiting on the money to arrive, the City of Vernon must decide how to spend the funds before the end of September. 

Council members stated in the workshop that the funds should cover a variety of areas. Items topping the priority list include improving the cityÂ’s infrastructure and technology, providing equipment for the Vernon Fire Department, assisting Vernon utility customers by providing credits to their bills, giving premium pay to staff who worked during the COVID pandemic, and assorted capital projects.

Council members discussed several other items of business during MondayÂ’s workshop and are expected to take action on the issues during the August 16 regular meeting.

Those items include considering a proposal from Laserfiche/Vista Solutions Group to provide a platform for citizen-driven access to digital public records, moving forward with a water rate study and revenue plan through the Florida Rural Water Association, and accepting a proposal to install a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system on the cityÂ’s ten lift stations to provide for faster response to problems.

The council is also expected to accept an offer from Grace Assembly Church to place park benches along the old high school track and approve appropriating $500 to the cemetery committee at the request of member Rhonda Dickinson to remove a tree that is encroaching on and damaging graves.