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Boykins considers ways to use ARPA funds

The Boykins Town Council passed an election ordinance at its Aug. 10 meeting, gave further consideration to a collections policy, allowed a public hearing to be set for a dog ordinance and heard a list of project proposals that could move forward with American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds. 

Boykins Town Clerk and Treasurer Victoria Edwards added that the Town Council decided to vote on one item on the ARPA project list immediately but was otherwise not ready to vote on any proposed purchases/programs. 

“By unanimous vote, council decided to hire a part-time employee to assist the town clerk with the administrative demands created from receiving the ARPA funds,” Edwards stated. “Council is expected to vote on some of the other projects listed at the Sept. 14 meeting.”

The first tranche of ARPA or Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that the Town of Boykins has received is $95,187.38.

On the project list for this tranche was an item called “ARPA administrative costs.” The project plan noted that federal guidelines permit towns to use a portion of the ARPA funds for administrative costs associated with managing ARPA funds at a premium pay rate outlined in the guidelines of $13 per hour. 

“It has been deemed necessary to hire additional help to manage the reporting aspects of the funds as well as any overhead costs incurred from managing the funds,” the plan stated.

It continued by noting that the part-time position of Authorized Reporting Representative would cost $12,480 over two years, with the representative working 10 hours or less per week at a rate of $12 per hour.

The plan allocated $1,000 for supplies, bringing the ARPA administrative costs to a total of $13,480.

Of the items on the project list with an estimated dollar amount listed, the highest-price item was for staff and benefits — $35,656.

“The Interim Final Rule includes, as an eligible use, payroll, covered benefits and other costs associated with rehiring public sector staff up to the pre-pandemic staffing level of the government,” the project plan stated.

Premium pay for two part-time positions for one year at $13 per hour multiplied by 24 hours minus budgeted payroll is $15,808. The insurance stipend for Edwards at $567 multiplied by 12 over two years is $13,608. The cost to afford a full-time public works supervisor getting paid $31,200 a year through an hourly rate of $15 would cost $6,240 since $24,960 is already budgeted for a part-time position.

Another item on the project list was E-summons, projected to cost $19,483.

“E-summons capabilities will limit contact between drivers and law enforcement officers,” the project plan stated. “Limited contact will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 viruses, as well as a variety of other viruses, lowering the risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus and its many variants.”

The E-summons equipment and its installation would cost $16,908, training would cost $2,000 and the annual fee would cost $575.

The project plan stated that the annual fee will be covered by the E-summons fee of $5 once law enforcement officers are set up for issuing E-summons.

The last item on the project list with dollar amounts listed was personal protection equipment, projected to cost $3,000.

“PPE is fundamental in protecting against a variety of contagions, including COVID-19 and its various variants,” the project plan stated. “Each department is asking for funds to purchase PPE as needed for town employees until December 2026. The town office will also continue to offer PPE to the public as they enter the town office so that they may feel protected while conducting business in our office(s).”

Of the $3,000 total, $1,000 would go to the police department, $1,000 to the public works/sanitation department and $1,000 to the town office, for use by both the public and town staff.

If all the above projects end up being approved by the Town Council, it would leave $23,568.38 available from the first tranche of ARPA funds. Following are other possible projects without estimates that are listed in the project plan:

  • golf cart 

Referencing a golf cart, Edwards said it was discussed at the Aug. 10 Town Council meeting that the town will be able to provide employment opportunities to marginalized or adversely affected groups by providing a means to navigate around employment requirements, namely those who are unable to provide a driver’s license but are still capable of performing the physical duties of public works and sanitation positions.

  • youth basketball goals
  • playground updates 

Edwards said discussion at the meeting noted that updates could include mulch and appliances for the concession stand that fell into disrepair due to closing the facilities during the pandemic in 2020.

  • camera — new/replacements and repairs 
  • fence for shop property
  • dump truck 

It was discussed that due to the increase in refuse created from residents abiding by the quarantine requirement, working from home and staying indoors, a dump truck is essential in managing refuse collection efforts, Edwards said.

  • washer and dryer 

Edwards said it was discussed that a washer and dryer for public works and sanitation staff will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and other contagions, as well as chemicals and debris that may prove hazardous to the employees’ households.

  • essential worker bonus/stipends

A note associated with this item in the project plan stated that legislation is in the works with match stipulations for law enforcement.

Moving on to other matters covered in the Aug. 10 council meeting, Edwards introduced a collections policy to the council in her role as treasurer.

“In the proposal to council to adopt the policy, I recommended the town keep collection efforts in house at this time,” she said. “With a collection rate of 94.86% for 2020 real estate taxes and 81.67% for 2020 personal property taxes without resorting to aggressive collection efforts such as liens or booting vehicles, I did not feel a third party was necessary.”

She noted that no resolution was made to adopt the policy at this time, “though I was instructed to move on to more aggressive measures for all accounts, including refuse collection accounts, that have been deemed delinquent.”

In new business discussed during the Town Council’s July meeting, Edwards said the council requested that she bring a proposed ordinance to the August meeting that limits the number of dogs a resident may have within town limits.

After the August meeting, she stated that a public hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. for the Prohibition of Keeping Certain Animals ordinance, also known as the dog ordinance.

She said the hearing will take place at the town office, located at 18206 Virginia Ave., unless the expected attendance will exceed the town’s ability to provide adequate social distancing measures, in which case the hearing will be held at the Boykins Volunteer Fire Department, located at 18127 N. Railroad Ave.

An election ordinance revision was a piece of new business at the July 13 council meeting that was resolved at the August meeting.

After the July meeting, Edwards said, “The electoral board has informed the town that an ordinance needs to be passed to reflect the recent passing of legislation that moved local elections from May to November. We must submit the ordinance to the local registrar for them to keep for their records. The town has sent the request to their lawyer. Once an ordinance is drafted, the town will vote on it.”

Edwards said the drafted election ordinance was passed at the Aug. 10 council meeting, making Boykins’ town code compliant with state code. A copy will be filed with the registrar’s office.