Mt. Pleasant eyeing $300K in CARES funds
By Doug Lowe
MT. PLEASANT—City officials would like to access about $300,000 in CARES funds to install gas lines at the town’s industrial park, but they aren’t sure if the project meets federal guidelines.
So, on Monday, June 8, Monte Bona, the executive director of Mt. Pleasant’s Community Development and Renewal Agency (CDRA), emailed a friendly government official hoping to learn if some of those earmarked funds could be used to complete some work in the town’s industrial park.
In his email message, Bona explained, “We are completing phases IV and V in our industrial park…being developed, in part, by a $249,200 grant from the Economic Development Administration. The project will be completed by the end of July.
“We know that CARES funds cannot be used for construction, nor for any part of a project that was included in a budget. These restrictions do not apply to our proposal. The businesses we are supporting in Phases IV and V do not have the funds to take natural gas to their properties because of economic challenges associated with Corona Virus. Our work centered on water, roads and sewer. We did not include funds for natural gas lines to their properties.
“Some of the businesses are proposing a less expensive option—propane tanks. We do not want that option for safety and other issues. Therefore, we would like to use CARES funding to have Dominion Energy take gas service to the properties. As you read the act, would this be allowable?”
To the Messenger, Bona explained, “We did not plan on the expense of installing gas lines because Questar used to run them to any new business for free, but now Dominion wants to be paid.” He estimates approximately $70,000 will be needed, which would leave a remainder of $230,000 as the city’s share of CARES Act monies.
Given the possibility of such a large sum remaining available, the CDRA and Mt. Pleasant City Council will be studying the CARES Act guidelines to figure out if other needed projects could possibly qualify.
Until he hears otherwise, Bona said he plans on moving forward and using some of the CARES money for the industrial park.
CARES funds were created to ease financial burdens caused by the new coronavirus pandemic; it is formally known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.