Lenoir to use "COVID-19 money" for long-term investments

Lenoir to use "COVID-19 money" for long-term investments

With over three million dollars allocated to the City of Lenoir through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Lenoir city officials have set their focus on projects that will benefit residents for years to come. 

Lenoir City Manager, Scott Hildebran, said, “we want something that’s not just spent in a day and it’s gone, we want something long term,” he said. “Everything we’re looking to do is a long term investment.”

The ARP was signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan consists of various government backed grants to be doled out to cities and counties across the nation in an effort to ease the burden of the pandemic.

According to the plan, funds received by cities must be spent on responding to the public health emergency, essential workers performing while responding to the COVID 19 emergency, provision of government services, loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

“We have in there a couple of pieces of expensive equipment, the fire truck should last 20 to 25 years, the garbage truck should last ten, fifteen years,” Hildebran continued, “the water and sewer should last about 40 years.”

Some of the money has not been specifically allocated, but will be held in a grant matching fund for future opportunities, he said.

“For instance, if the state has a program that’s a 50/50 match, we can put our money up and we’ll have a 100 percent,” he said. 

Hildebran also explained the importance of the Green Way expansion, detailing that it was one of the city's most utilized assets during the pandemic.

The City of Lenoir Greenway offers more than nine miles of path and trails for outdoor activities including running, walking, cycling, and mountain biking, but isn’t connected in some places. 

“People are just all over the green way,” he said. “So we want to connect it throughout the city.”

The council has discussed what will be done with the ARP funds throughout several meetings from January until now, but has yet to vote on anything. 

“Before we spend any of the funds, we’ll have council vote and endorse those items,” he said. “The council has generally accepted the plan, but they’ll take each item each step of the way.”

Below is a full list of the City of Lenoir's tentative plans for the ARP funds:

  • $700,000 to purchase one Fire Truck/Rescue apparatus to enhance the service capability and service delivery to Lenoir citizens. The new truck will have pumping capabilities to suppress fires as well as haul rescue equipment and replaces the current 2004 Rescue Truck that has no pumping 
  • $300,000 to purchase one automated garbage truck to assist with the continued conversion to automated garbage pick-up as this can be utilized to replace aging equipment.
  • $500,000 set aside funding for future grant matches in coordination with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.
  • $942, 491 to aid in funding a water line upgrade to improve the water pressure on Morganton Blvd. (HWY 18) and the Fairview area. The total project cost is estimated to be approximately $2 million.
  • $300,000 to improve the current IT infrastructure to address cyber security changes and upgrade the 14-year-old financial software system.
  • $200,000 to develop master plans for the historic Campus at Lenoir High School, Downtown Lenoir and Parks and Recreation.
  • $200,000 for a continued investment in upgrading the greenways to promote outside healthy living.
  • $692,200 for a one-time bonus for city employees. City employees worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to provide essential services.
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