The City of Madison has received $786,000 in COVID-relief funds this summer, but those funds will not be spent just yet. The Madison Mayor and City Council is asking for public feedback to help them to decide on how best to spend these new funds.

“I think it’s time we had this conversation with the public,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman during a work session on Friday, Sept. 3.

The council agreed to hold a public meeting on Monday, Oct. 4, at 8:30 a.m. specifically to discuss options on how COVID relief money should be spent. The meeting will be held at the city’s meeting room, located at 160 North Main Street, Suite 400, in Madison.

The first installment of COVID-relief funds from The American Rescue Plan hit the City of Madison’s bank account in the amount of $786,000 back in July. The city will receive a total of $1.3 million dollars in relief funds.

According to city leaders, there are certain parameters set by the federal government on how the money can be spent, but those restrictions still leave a range of broad options to consider.

City Manager David Nunn explained the decision of how the relief funds are to be spent will be entirely up to the mayor and council during a meeting over the summer.

“Every dollar of this will be directed by the mayor and council,” said Nunn. “There will be no questions about how these funds are spent because the mayor and council will direct staff on how to best spend these funds...This money can be used for infrastructure and for several things not necessarily related to COVID. This round of stimulus has a lot more options than the ones before.”

The Mayor and Council will have the final say, but not until they hear suggestions from the public on how to best prioritize these hefty funds.

According to the terms and conditions, the city must decide on how to spend all funds by 2024 and utilize all funds by 2026.

The city must operate within certain parameters on how to spend the money as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, put forth by the Biden Administration and passed by Congress earlier this year.

According to the Georgia Municipal Authority (GMA), authorized funding uses include “responding to acute pandemic-response needs, filling revenue shortfalls, and supporting the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis.” Other possible allowable uses include: requests regarding broadband, infrastructure and other critical allowable uses for ARP funds.

Since Madison’s population is under 50,000, the funds will not come directly from the federal government but pass through the State of Georgia before reaching Madison city officials.

“We need to have a special meeting for this,” said Perriman.

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