Ideas for remaining Black Mountain ARPA funds: firetruck, parks, Tomahawk, garbage toters

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
The Black Mountain Town Council met for a special call meeting March 22 to discuss allocating remaining ARPA funds.

The Black Mountain Town Council met in a special call meeting March 22 to discuss the town’s remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Town Manager Josh Harrold gave a run-down of where the town is with the ARPA funds. So far, the town has spent or allocated $1,480,800 on various projects:

  • The Lake Tomahawk Dam project was budgeted for $500,000 and is in process with engineering.
  • The U.S. 70 waterline project is also in process with engineering and budgeted for $500,000.
  • The Charlotte Street sidewalk project is in process with request for proposals recently posted with a budget of $65,000.
  • The completed public safety bay apron project was budgeted for $100,000.
  • The council allocated $120,000 in this year’s budget for pickleball courts.
  • Renovations for Grey Eagle are planned to be underway soon, with a budget of $195,800.

After these allocations, the town still has $1,119,200 in funds. Harrold noted that these funds are not technically ARPA funds anymore because the town chose to spend the original money on revenue replacement, of which towns were allowed to spend $10 million.

“These aren’t really ARPA funds anymore because we chose to spend our ARPA money on revenue replacement and salaries,” Harrold said. “In order for us to jump through the least hoops possible, we chose to do that, which kind of opened up our ability to do more things with the money and not be tied to certain categories that the federal government laid out for us.”

Mayor Michael Sobol asked each council member to list their priorities for the funds.

Pam King said she would like to see the town continue with putting solar panels on town-owned buildings, specifically the public works building. She said she would also like to see some of the funds go toward purchasing a new firetruck. Harrold said the last firetruck the town bought was in 2017 for $500,000. Now, that same truck is $800,000 with an electric version available for $1.6 million.

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Vice Mayor Archie Pertiller agreed he would like to see a new firetruck purchased, but would also like to see some of the funds used to Lake Tomahawk upkeep, especially along the shorelines.

Doug Hay said his ideas centered around improving parks, specifically Cragmont Park.

“What I keep coming back to is this is an opportunity where we have a large sum of money to do something pretty cool,” Hay said. “One of the parks in particular that is in most need of maintenance and upgrades is Cragmont Park and there is so much potential there.”

Bill Christy said he is “firmly in favor” of using funds to secure garbage and recycling toters because of the positive impact they would have on the safety of workers collecting the waste and improve the efficiency of collection. Harrold said the town has already been awarded $40,000 in grants for recycling bins and are still waiting to hear back from another grant. Christy said he would also like to see some improvements come through from the parks and recreation master plan.

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Alice Berry said she had heard “no bad ideas so far” and would like to see progress on the recycling and garbage toters as well as work on Lake Tomahawk.

The council directed town staff to send out a survey to Black Mountain residents inviting them to give their opinion on what they believe the remaining funds should be used for. There will also be a public comment period during the next regularly scheduled town council meeting for residents to speak to the council.

“Not a bad idea in the bunch, in my opinion,” King said. “It’s just a question of prioritizing them.”