By Terry Schrimscher, For The Tribune
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville City Council met for the second regular meeting of February on Monday night, February 21. Most of the discussion was completed in the work session prior to the meeting.
The first discussion focused on Alabama’s allocation of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put projects on the ground for monies we do not have,” City Attorney James Hill said. “They require that we spend these monies in one of four buckets. One of those buckets is water and sewer.”
Springville has already received $511 thousand in ARPA funds from the state allocation and expects a total of $1 million. Hill has proposed the city apply for grant funding from Alabama to perform upgrades that would otherwise be unaffordable.
Governor Kay Ivey called a special session of the legislature in January to allocate federal ARPA funds. The legislature approved spending on broadband expansion, water and sewer, healthcare, and unemployment funding.
The state allocated up to $225 million for clean water and sewer projects. The funds are broken down to include up to $120 million in grants for emergency or high-need projects and up to $100 million for water and sewer infrastructure projects. Another $5 million is designated to wastewater systems in Alabama’s Black Belt region.
Alabama expects to receive approximately $1.1 billion in additional funds later in 2022, but no legislation has been presented to allocate those funds.
Hill expects to present a resolution to Springville in April specifying how current funds should be spent according to state guidelines and is encouraging the city to actively seek grant funding from the $120 million designated for emergency or high need projects.
Hill also updated the Council on proposed redistricting plans presented by Brett Isom on behalf of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPC). In October, Isom discussed the need for redistricting due to deviations in population density that are outside of approved norms.
“In this city, we have single-member districts,” said Hill. “The law says we are to seek to have no greater than a 5 percent deviation. We have greater than a 5 percent deviation.” Hill said the current structure makes it difficult to maintain a majority-minority district.
The RPC proposals include plans to move to five at-large districts and a plan to maintain seven districts and alternative voting strategies, including ranked-choice voting and cumulative voting.
The council expressed interest in maintaining seven single-member districts even though the proposal does not specifically maintain a majority-minority district. Hill is expected to present a resolution to adopt a redistricting plan in a future meeting.
In other business, the Council approved $15,000 already budgeted for the St. Clair County Economic Development Council (EDC) and $250 for the St. Clair Conservation District Water Festival.
The Council also approved up to $2000 for surveys for the Forever Wild project at the planned Big Canoe Creek Nature Preserve.