The newest COVID stimulus package carried a $1.9 trillion price tag. Not only did the latest relief bill aim to aid individuals and families that may be struggling during these uncertain times, but it also includes funding for municipalities like the City of Tallassee, which should soon receive well over $800,000 from the latest stimulus package.
"Out of that money, the City of Tallassee is going to receive a little over 834,000. This money is meant for cities and towns that suffered during COVID with their budget, but the City of Tallassee is an exception. We navigated the pandemic waters intelligently," Mayor John Hammock said.
According to Mayor Hammock, city officials managed the first round of stimulus funding in an effective manner.
"We did a good job with the CARES Act," he said. "We had to buy some PPE and some things like that, we turned it in, got reimbursed with the CARES Act."
Unlike many cities and towns across the country, Tallassee seems to have fared well during the pandemic, seeing an increase in sales tax revenue.
"Also, we had an uptick on our sales tax because a lot of people were working from home. They weren't traveling to Montgomery or Auburn. They were eating lunch here. They were spending money at Walmart, True Value doing home repairs, things like that while they were staying safer at home. So, we were actually up $70,000 in sales tax. Cities like the City of Tallassee that are in this situation, they can use this money for water, sewer type projects, or broadband, which we're not in the broadband business," Mayor Hammock said.
In Tallassee, there is a catalog of infrastructure projects but one has been much-talked-about for a few years now.
"There's a long list of capital improvement projects on the water/sewer that we can do. I advised the city council that it was time to paint the water tank downtown. It is way overdue," Mayor Hammock said.
Once these federal dollars are in the city's possession, work should begin pretty quickly to blast and paint the downtown water tank. The decades-old tank standing adjacent to the downtown tank will also be removed using money from the COVID relief package.
"What they would do is, take it down, blast it, paint the inside and out, put it back up, probably put some LEDs around the catwalk, kind of shine it up there on the city logo," Mayor Hammock said. "Make it look nice and neat."
Mayor Hammock said the idea of placing LED lights on the water tank is only that at this point, an idea.
"That tank is really a focal point in this town," Mayor Hammock said. "It is something that needs to be done. All of the water comes from the water filter plant to that tank, then it goes to the other tanks like Carrville, the Burlington tank, the Tallaweeka tank. It's a very important piece of our infrastructure."
While blasting and painting the downtown water tank will cost between $500,000- $700,000, any funds remaining will also go into the city's water system.
"If there is any money left over, we will probably go ahead and do a telemetry system or a SCADA system, which will let us communicate with all of our water tanks, water pump station, and sewer lift stations," Mayor Hammock said.
SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) is a software package that is positioned on top of a real-time control system to control a process that is external to the SCADA system. Telemetry is a technology that allows the remote measurement and also reporting of information of interest to the system designer.
"Right now, we are 25-years behind. You have to manually go out and check them every day. You see our guys going out to all the pump stations. We would be able to monitor it in real-time from our cell phones, from our tablets, our computers. If we have a problem, we won't have to wait until someone calls it in or we actually go by there and physically put eyes on it the next day," Mayor Hammock said.
Mayor Hammock says he is grateful that Tallassee will get this funding, which will help the city as a whole.
"I'm looking forward to using this money to help all of Tallassee because everyone is affected by the water in this town. It's one of the main things that you have to have to live," he said.
According to Hammock, the federal funding should be in a city account in the near future.
"I think it's coming pretty soon, probably within the next month or so," he said.
According to Hammock, the funds must be used by the end of 2024.
"We will try to go ahead and do it this year," he said.
The plan is to paint the water tank using the same logo that was recently painted on the Tallaweeka water tank. Mayor Hammock said he would like to one day see all of the highly visible water tanks in the city with that same logo. The logo is also on the City of Tallassee website.