The Delaware County Council has approved a plan for distributing federal recovery funding from the American Rescue Plan this year. Despite council members’ requests for more public information, the approval vote went forward, as Stephanie Wiechmann of IPR reported.
As County Commissioner jobs James King presented the plan during a two-hour discussion, county council members questioned whether the public knew enough about where the money would vote on the issue. “As a body, we haven’t seen this plan until today,” said Scott Alexander.
“I got, I don’t know, Jenny gave me one, but there’s been one since then,” said Jane Lasater. “I have two versions,” said Ron Quakenbush, asking which version was up for discussion. Alexander asked King, “Was there actually a public presentation of the plans? So that the public knows not only what the plan is, but how –” King responded, “The plan was put out; I believe it was put out over our website because we did have one gentleman who showed up. He had the plan.”
Commissioners published an $11 million expenditure plan on September 7. On September 20, they accepted an updated version and sent it to the council; however, the authorized version was not posted on the county website. The minutes from the meeting on September 20 have yet to be posted on the county website.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the council revised the plan again, withdrawing funds for a contentious project that would give sewer service to an unincorporated Delaware County town and a Henry County town.
The council contemplated deferring the vote and rescheduling it for a special meeting in October. However, the vote went through, and members voted 5-2 to authorize the release of around $7.9 million.
Councilwoman Jane Lasater said she voted no because of the $1 million the Muncie Visitors Bureau will give as grants to hotels and restaurants jobs in the county outside Muncie city limits. “I have always been opposed to a non-elected person spending tax dollars.” County Commissioner James King says the bureau will make recommendations, but commissioners will approve the list.
The county will get more federal monies than were authorized for expenditure on Tuesday. King says commissioners will return to the council if the money is required before finalized next year’s budget.
Source: Indiana Public Radio