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County, towns of Erwin and Unicoi, stand to benefit from American Rescue funds

By Richard Rourk

Financial relief is on the way to the area thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, to speed up the U.S. recovery from the economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

According to Tennessee State Sen. Rusty Crowe, all three municipalities in Unicoi County will receive relief.

“The state should see about 18 billion dollars in relief,” Crowe announced during the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast on March 26. “You have $3.8 billion for Covid relief to small businesses, you have roughly 1.3 billion going to local counties and towns and you have roughly $2.6 billion for our school board. This means that Unicoi County will get roughly $3.7 million, Erwin will get roughly $1.6 million and Unicoi will get close to one million dollars.”

Unicoi County Mayor Bubba Evely said he is excited to see the federal funding coming into the county. “We are working hard to fi nd out where the funding can go and what restrictions may apply,” Evely said. “We should get half the funding for this fiscal year and the rest for next year. I’ve heard we may need to spend the funds by 2024, so we are working now to see where the funding will be most useful. This funding was very much needed.

According to Erwin Mayor Glenn White, Erwin is set to make improvements throughout the town with the American Rescue Plan funds. “We will be receiving 1.6 million dollars from the American  Rescue Plan Act,” White said. “This money will be very helpful to our town and the Board of Mayor and Alderman will address the needs of our city and spend accordingly. As always, we are in an effort to update all of our infrastructure from roads, sidewalks, graveled alleys, drainage issues, trash pickup, tools, machinery, vehicles, fishery park, etc, in order to make our city the best for the services we deliver to our citizens.”

Unicoi Mayor Kathy Bullen said that the American Rescue Plan funding will be a welcome addition to the Town of Unicoi’s budget.

“We have been fortunate to be in a pretty good fiscal position,” Bullen said. “We had a good year with sales tax, but every bit of funding helps. This board will work hard to make sure we are spending the funding for the betterment of our town and all of our citizens. We as a board will be diligent in distributing the funding to the outlets that will best serve the town.”

According to Evely, the towns and the county could see the new round of Covid relief sometime in May. “I’ve been told we can expect the first payment in May,” Evely said.