The majority of the Amherst town government’s $2.2 million money in the Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will go toward a major utility project, city officials have decided.
Amherst City Council voted on September 14 to spend $1.9 million in ARPA money for a centrifuge project at the city’s wastewater plant.
“This is a piece of equipment that will remove the sludge in our wastewater treatment plant, making the final step in our waste treatment process more efficient,” said Sarah McGuffin, city manager.
A portion of the city’s ARPA funds distributed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic went only to cover more than $226,000 in lost revenue for 2020, which was applied to capital and salary needs, according to McGuffin.
The centrifuge project includes a $1.5 million construction bid award to Littleton and Associates, Inc. Project costs also include equipment and a 10% contingency reserve of about US$182,000 that McGuffin said he’d rather not spend.
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“This does not fit into your ARPA funds and will not require any additional city funds whatsoever,” McGuffin told the board. “This fits perfectly with the purpose of the ARPA funds.”
Council member Ken Watts said the project will speed up the utility system in the required area.
When awarding the bid for the construction and the total cost of the project, the city set aside most of its ARPA funds a year before the deadline for its use.
The council also approved an additional generator project at the city’s Waugh’s Ferry Pumping Station, which is part of the city’s utility infrastructure system and provides water for Sweet Briar College, as well as covering additional engineering costs from renovation to the water treatment plant. Those expenses combined are $66,500, according to city documents.
- The council has given permission for IRON Lives, a local youth leadership and development program, to host a 5K race on April 23 in the city. The path of the event from Amherst County High School to the city traffic light on South Main Street and back. Derek Brown, founder and CEO of IRON Lives, said the event will mark the 12th round of the program since its inception in 2009 and is the second during the pandemic. The council also voted to shut down the streets of the Amherst Christmas Parade scheduled for the evening of December 2 with the theme of “Blue Christmas”. McGuffin said the event is planned to be even bigger and better this year.
- A request from the Village Garden Club in Amherst to light three of the town’s welcome signs at night received council support. The combined cost of installing lights on signage located at US 29N, 29S and US 60W is approximately $12,700. Chancellor Janice Whitton said the move is exciting for the city and doesn’t cost much.