Kellyn Doerr, Community News Service
Charlotte residents are weighing in on what the town should do with about $370,000 of COVID-19 relief money, which was allocated to the town by the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan.
“The most important thing a town can do right now is be patient,” said Ted Brady, the Executive Director of The Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT).
There is little guidance on how this funding can be used, Brady said. The Vermont Legislature is still debating exactly how to allocate the more than $1 billion the state received, and towns are urged to be patient in regard to when guidelines will be released.
VLCT is establishing a program that will help towns that want or need assistance in evaluating how they can legally spend the funding, what will be best for the community, and how to report it to the federal government.
“Municipalities will need to decide how these funds can best foster good governance, leverage other resources and encourage long-term recovery. The beauty of this aid is that it recognizes that local governments might need and want different things depending on their size, their priorities, and their citizen’s interests,” said Brady.
The guidance is set to be issued in mid-May, Brady said.
Deirdre Holmes is another town member, a part of the energy committee and is a new member of the Charlotte Community Partners group. Holmes is concerned with how much money is being allocated and who will be making this decision for the town.
Holmes says this would be a great time for the community to come together, become stronger and recover from the pandemic and economic crises and address and pay closer attention to the climate and racial crises.
“If we spend the funding wisely, we can build community resilience and become a stronger community all around, in much better shape for both day-to-day and emergency challenges,” said Holmes
Holmes suggests looking into the Town Energy Plan, and with this funding could help greatly in areas like transportation, solar power for all town-owned buildings, community composting, support for local food producers and more.
Holmes also believes that the community should be part of the discussion for funding.
Another Charlotte member, Tica Netherwood, who teaches at CVU and has lived in Charlotte since the 1980s, believes garbage and recycling pick-up is a crucial service.
“I realize that I can pay a company to come to my place to collect, and that a good number of folks do this. However, when I consider how much I pay in taxes for a single dwelling, it is irksome that our taxes don’t cover it,” said Netherwood.
Community News Service works in a partnership with The Charlotte News and other local media outlets to provide opportunities to University of Vermont students.