Ellington selectmen to hold public hearing and vote on proposed rescue funds ordinance

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ELLINGTON — The Board of Selectmen is holding both a public hearing and town meeting on Monday for residents to comment — and vote — on a proposed ordinance establishing the town’s American Rescue Plan Act special revenue fund.

The public hearing begins at 7 p.m., followed by the town meeting where residents will vote, and the selectmen’s regular meeting, all at Town Hall and also available via Zoom.

The revised ordinance now states that selectmen will seek advice and the recommendation of the Board of Finance prior to appropriation, and the selectmen will call a town meeting to consider expenditures over $100,000.

After an Aug. 9 public hearing on the first proposed ordinance — which did not include the Finance Board and town meeting in the decision-making process — First Selectwomen Lori Spielman withdrew the ordinance. At a special Aug. 23 meeting, the selectmen unanimously approved the revised proposed ordinance.

The proposed ordinance states the special fund will be in the custody of Ellington’s financial officer. The financial officer can approve fund investments in certificates of deposit with either national or state banks located in Connecticut, cash deposits with mutual savings banks in Connecticut, or securities in which public funds may lawfully be invested.

All income derived by such investments will be paid into the fund.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package — stipulates that its funding may not be used for tax cuts or to support public pension plans.

On June 21, the town received $2,436,709 of its $4,873,418 allotment. The second half is expected next May, according to Tiffany Pignataro, the town’s finance officer and treasurer.

Although town officials have until December 2024 to decide where the money will go and until December 2026 to spend it, they must establish the special revenue fund by the end of this October.

Per dictates of the act, the fund will be used to address economic impacts that the town experienced in the COVID-19 crisis, and to further capital improvement and infrastructure projects.

All expenditures must be consistent with the final guidance set by the U.S. Treasury Department and the state of Connecticut.

The American Rescue Plan tool kit, issued by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, states five categories of eligible uses for the funds: supporting public health response to COVID-19; addressing negative economic responses of the virus; addressing Broadband infrastructure; investing in water and sewer projects; and replacing loss of revenue.

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