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Conyers City Hall

CONYERS — Mayor Vince Evans and members of the Conyers City Council met in a work session Oct. 6 to prioritize spending of the $6 million-plus the city will receive in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act.

The mayor and council members reviewed a list of items compiled by city staff members and agreed by consensus to move forward with a prioritized list. If approved as proposed, an incentive for city employees to become vaccinated is the top priority with an expenditure of $87,500, followed by premium pay for first responders and essential workers at $795,000.

Based on council discussions last week, the city will pay each employee who is vaccinated $500. Premium pay for police officers will be $5,000 per officer who has more than a year of tenure. Those with less than a year will receive $2,500, and those with less than six months will receive $1,000. All other essential workers with more than a year of tenure will receive $4,000; those with six months up to a year will receive $2,000; and all others with less than six months will receive $1,000. Part-time emloyees who are eligible will receive $500.

The council first met to discuss ARPA funds in July to review details about the funding and begin the process of determining how the money will be used. Under program guidelines, funds can be used to address seven broad pandemic-related categories — for public health services; to remediate negative economic impacts; to provide services to disproportionately impacted communities; for premium pay for essential workers; to fund water, sewer and broadband infrastructure; to pay administrative costs related to use of the funds; and to replace lost revenue for government services. The city estimates that it lost $2.6 million due to the impacts of the pandemic.

The city’s third priority is to enhance mental health services provided through its Police Department, including renovations to the city’s Public Safety Complex where mental health workers will be housed.

Direct assistance to city residents and businesses has also been proposed at $250,000 for each category. The city is also proposing to use $300,000 to hire consultants to assist with providing assistance to residents and businesses.

Other priorities include:

♦ Broadband expansion — $350,000

♦ Parks upgrades — $675,000

♦ Stormwater projects — $700,000

♦ BOLO wraps — $85,000

♦ Radar detection devices — $76,000

♦ Gunshot detection systems — $101,000

♦ License plate recognition devices — $100,000

♦ Public safety cameras — $120,000

♦ Water and sewer upgrades to RV lot ??? — $300,000

♦ Upgrade and repair restrooms in RV lot and Barn 5 at the Georgia International Horse Park — $200,000

♦ Upgrades to docks, viewfinders and wetlands walk at horse park — $100,000

♦ Online inspections software — $500,000

♦ Administrative costs to manage ARPA funds — $100,000

♦ Projects contingency — $500,000

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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