The City of Paris is finding itself in the position of considering which project it might like to pursue with some federal COVID relief money that is coming in through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Paris Commission learned during its Thursday meeting that a strategic planning session is probably going to be needed so that the city may proceed with the right decision on how to spend this relief funding.

The first allotment through the ARPA came into the city in November, and totaled about $1.49 million. That’s half the amount that Paris will receive, with another $1.49 million scheduled to come in during November 2022.

City Manager Kim Foster said Jennifer Morris, the city’s community development director, and Traci Shannon, the city’s finance director, have been regularly watching webinars from the state Department of Finance to keep themselves abreast of rules, expectations and developments.

“We will need to be careful and see just what is the best use of this money,” Foster said.

One of the possibilities is that the city might attempt to use the whole nearly $3 million to replenish its general fund. It would be allowed to do that by declaring its entire payroll during 2021 in a “lost revenue” category. But it’s also possible the city could pursue using the money for some projects that have been on the back burner for awhile.

“We’ll be in a position to do things that we’ve been putting off,” Foster said.

One of the things that had previously been discussed in connection with the American Rescue Plan money was to have a study done of the city’s drainage system, because of concerns here about frequent flooding.

That project, which would probably top out at a cost of $135,000, looks like it will now be paid for through a different avenue — federal money being paid through the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development to various city and county governments in the state.

Out of some $3.91 billion being paid to Tennessee through that COVID relief fund, about $1.35 billion is being designated by the state for a water infrastructure investment plan.

It’s through that plan that Foster thinks the Paris drainage study could be funded.

She said she was confident Paris will receive a big enough allotment of the TDEC money to pay for that study, and the commissioners responded by instructing her to have Bob Safin, an engineer with TLM Associates, proceed with the study starting today. That study is likely to take 10-12 months to be completed.

In other business Thursday:

•  The commission accepted a bid from Martin Paving Co. of Medina on the upcoming sidewalk project along Wilson Street and Patriot Avenue.

Martin Paving submitted the lowest of three bids on the project, at $652,462.

•  Marsha Banasiewicz, a member of the Henry County-Paris Bicentennial Committee, updated commissioners on the finances of the committee, which is overseeing the joint  celebration of the county and city’s 200th anniversaries.

She said sales have been going well for the Henry County Family History Book, which is to include histories and information submitted by local families themselves. More than $12,000 worth of books have been sold already.

More than a dozen events are scheduled during the next year-plus in conjunction with the Bicentennials.

•  Shannon reported that the city’s retail sales tax revenue was up 11.48% in October as opposed to October 2020.

She pointed out the city had large paving expenses in November — $670,000 for the cost of asphalt and material for street repairs and the Paris city hall parking lot.

The Paris-Henry County Landfill also showed a large deficit in the monthly report because the city bought a piece of property adjacent to the landfill for future use. The county government will be reimbursing the city for half the cost of that property.

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