Ky. government officials discuss American Rescue Plan priorities

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 3:37 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky cities and counties will receive a share of billions of dollars in American Rescue Plan money, and there are a lot of questions as to how that money can be spent.

On Tuesday, Kentucky lawmakers heard from city and county officials on possible plans to spend that money.

Stimulus checks were issued months ago, but in the months and even years to come, cities and counties stand to receive money to help their communities.

“Well, it’s a big package for sure. Anytime federal dollars descend into your community you want to be responsible with it,” Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said.

Somerset stands to receive about $3 million.

“We can invest in infrastructure, which we are going to do heavily. I think there’s an opportunity to do economic development and tourism,” Mayor Keck said.

JD Chaney with the Kentucky League of Cities told state lawmakers there’s a lot of rules and restrictions to follow as to how the money can be spent.

“That we are getting calls, can we use it to buy the backhoe to build the sewer line? Can we use it for this or that purpose? Until the guidance gets more substance, more meat on the bones, I think you are going to see a more cautious approach,” Chaney said.

And while there are numerous possibilities for how to spend the money, city and county leaders say one common way to avoid problems is for municipalities to use it in some way for water, sewer or broadband.

In fact, that’s how the state of Kentucky stands to spend about $500 million of rescue plan money. But the application process has already oversubscribed the $250 million allotment of water and sewer line funds.

“We have received 127 grant applications, and they amount to more than $300 million,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said.

Kentucky also plans to spend $300 million on broadband expansion in underserved areas, with speeds of 100 megabytes per second upload and download.

Lawmakers were told that cities and counties must either spend or appropriate the fund by December of 2024.

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