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Bermuda Run expecting COVID relief cash

By Jim Buice

Enterprise Record

BERMUDA RUN – While giving final approval to the $1.8 million budget for fiscal year 2021-22, the town council here received an update from Town Manager Lee Rollins for what he called “a once in a generation” financial bonanza coming to communities through the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

Rollins said during last Tuesday night’s meeting that the town expected to receive “a little over $700,000” as part of the federal government’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan signed into law in March to facilitate the nation’s recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The guidance that we’ve all been waiting on from the U.S. Department of Treasury came out late yesterday, so we haven’t had an opportunity to go into detail on how to utilize those funds,” said Rollins, who added that half of the allocation would come in the next couple of months and the other part would arrive a year later.

“If you have angst or anxiety about how to spend that money, the deadline to spend those funds is Dec. 31, 2024,” Rollins told the council. “I just wanted to make sure you that you got guidance and that we think thoughtfully about truly a once in a generation, whether you agree with it or not, infusion of money in the local communities.

“I did a quick read (of the 151-page document) and highlighted what I thought was important, and it could probably be put on two pages, but I’m seeking guidance from the state treasurer’s office and from the N.C. League of Municipalities, so stay tuned.”

Rollins did say after the meeting that “most likely we’ll look at infrastructure” as one of the key areas of emphasis on how funds will be spent.

Earlier in the meeting, council members officially approved the 2021-22 fiscal year budget, which goes into effect on July 1. In addition to the General Fund being balanced at $1.8 million, the Gate Operations Fund is balanced at $566,017, and the Utilities Fund is balanced at $530,850.

Rollins presented the budget in the April meeting, and a public hearing was called during last Tuesday night’s meeting.

Mike Brannon, who regularly attends council meetings, was the lone speaker and said he fully supported the proposed budget but had one addition he wanted to recommend – including funding to support video-based town council meetings, planning meetings and other open public meetings.

“Several surrounding cities provide live streaming and video replay of their government meetings,” Brannon said. “This is one small way to make a local government more accessible and transparent to the community of Bermuda Run.”

Mayor Rick Cross and several council members said that they are receptive to the idea, and Rollins added: “There is room within the existing budget to work on initiatives, so this didn’t fall on deaf ears. There will be an opportunity for the council to discuss what that might look like.”

In other highlights from last Tuesday night’s meeting:

• Heard from Cross that there will be a community celebration on June 5 for the 10-year anniversary of WinMock at Kinderton. Cross said that the free all-day event at WinMock will feature food, beverages, music, games and specialty vendors. There will also be tours for those who haven’t had an opportunity to look inside the facility. More details will be coming soon.

• Heard that the town’s Summer Concert Series, which was called off last year because of the pandemic, will return with Envision kicking things off Aug. 7 at Town Center, Kinderton Boulevard. North Tower will perform Aug. 14, followed by Matt Dylan & the Honky Tonk Outlaws (Aug. 21) and Special Occasion Band (Sept. 11). All the concerts, which are free, will start at 7 p.m.

• During council comments, Mike Ernst said that he wanted to point out that while Bermuda Run is continuing recycling, the county is not, “and there are people in the town of Bermuda Run who are confused, and they think we’re not going to be doing recycling. We may want to communicate it a couple of more times on the website to let people know because they think the county and Bermuda Run are lumped in together. We just need to clarify it that isn’t the case.”