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Parish, cities to receive $20M in COVID relief funds

Saturday, March 13, 2021
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Lincoln Parish and its municipalities stand to receive almost $20 million in COVID-19 relief money from the Biden administration’s newly approved stimulus package.

The estimated allocation for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury is just over $9 million, according to figures from the National Association of Counties. Meantime, the city of Ruston will be given slightly more than $8 million, based on estimates provided by the Louisiana Municipal Association.

Though Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker has received what he called “printed verification” of the pending $8.06 million to the city, parish Administrator Doug Postel said Friday he hasn’t gotten official confirmation of the approximately $9.06 million headed to the parish.

However, NACo Associate Legislative Director Eryn Hurley verified the number Friday.

A list from the LMA shows the following estimates for Lincoln Parish municipalities:

• Choudrant - $360,000

• Dubach - $330,000

• Grambling - $1.9 million

• Ruston - $8.06 million

• Simsboro - $310,000

Ruston’s Walker said the stimulus money “could not have come at a better time” for the city.

Walker said he anticipates some of the funds will go to shore up the city’s reserves, some for the planned new fire station on West California Avenue, and some for the long-talked-about new animal control facility.

The mayor said he’s been holding back on starting several new projects until the city could rebuild reserves spent in response to a string of natural disasters including the 2019 tornado, Hurricane Laura in August 2020 and the back-to-back winter storms this year, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

The city generally keeps approximately $12 million in reserves. It’s several million short of that now.

Postel said no decision has been made on how the parish might use its money, pending receipt of federal guidelines that could impact how the funds are to be spent.

“I assume the guidance will be coming pretty quickly,” he said.

The American Rescue Plan requires half of every entity’s money to arrive within 60 days and the other half sooner than 12 months later.

The plan includes over $65 billion in flexible aid directly to every county in the country. Louisiana will receive $5.185 billion, which includes state capital project funding, state government funding, parish funding, and municipal funding.

Villages, towns and cities are to receive $894 million, roughly the same amount as the combined parish allocation, according to LMA and the National League of Cities.