Ridgecrest received approximately $111,000 in the first round of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and some ex-village workers feel they are obligated for a portion.
Three former employees of Ridgecrest attended the Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting June 8 to state their case for the funds.
According to Mayor Veller Ray Carroll, the trio were employed by Ridgecrest at least for a portion of the time in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the first round has already been assigned.
Previously, aldermen agreed to use ARPA funds to rehabilitate the Ferriday Street sewer lift station.
Cost estimates to rehabilitate the lift station are approximately $180,000, and a portion of the second round of ARPA will be used, according to Carroll.
For local governments, the second wave of ARPA funds will possibly be later this summer.
“If the lift station goes down, Ridgecrest will be in trouble,” Carroll said.
ARPA funds may be used for payroll and covered benefits expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees, including first responders, to the extent that the employee's time is dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, according to naco.org. But, funds may also be used for the investment in broadband infrastructure, services and programs to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including capital investments in public facilities and investments in housing and neighborhoods.
National Association of Counties (NACO) is an advocacy group dedicated for the “healthy, safe and vibrant counties across America.”
Carroll did not rule out money for the employees.
“If we have any money left over after the sewer lift station we may give them some,” Carroll said. “We have to see if (giving them money) is legit.”
Additionally, aldermen moved forward on a Louisiana Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP) grant that, if funds are approved, would finance a 40-horse power tractor with a front bucket.
At the start of each fiscal year, the executive director of the Office of Community Development determines equal LGAP funding for all eligible parishes. Applications are accepted for fire protection, sewer, water, renovations to essential governmental buildings, police protection, land acquisition, demolition, equipment, roads and drainage.
Meanwhile, work continues on Ridgecrest’s water system improvements.
According to Carroll, crews are busy painting the village’s water tower.
Major improvement work has been completed with the tie into Ferriday’s water system complete.
Also, Meshelle Donnelly was hired as village clerk.