Spartanburg County Council could agree Monday to spend $5 million of its $62.1 million in federal COVID-relief funds to build a long-awaited animal shelter.
A public hearing, followed by possible approval of a plan to spend $50.3 million of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on 10 projects, is on the tentative agenda for Monday night’s council meeting.
The meeting starts at 5:15 p.m. in County Council chambers, the county administration building, 366 N. Church St., Spartanburg.
At a special meeting on Nov. 1, County Administrator Cole Alverson, Deputy County Administrator Earl Alexander and Assistant County Administrator Kevin Stiens outlined a list of proposed projects that meet the ARPA guidelines.
Among the Spartanburg County projects proposed include $5 million for an animal shelter, $2.5 million for stormwater improvements along roads, $5 million for new road and bridge projects, $2.5 million to expand access to affordable housing by removing condemned structures, $6 million to reduce racial inequity gaps and support small and minority-owned businesses.
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“Right now we are in terrible shape with our infrastructure and roads,” County Councilman Bob Walker said in support of the road-related projects. “If we continue to grow, and if we don’t do something with the roads right now, we’re going to get further and further behind.”
Spartanburg County agencies, nonprofits seek money from ARPA funds
The bulk of the ARPA funding proposed, $24.8 million, is sought by Spartanburg Water for planned sewer projects in the southwest and northern parts of the county where rapid growth is expected.
The American Rescue Plan was signed into law last year. South Carolina was allocated $65.1 billion to distribute to counties and cities. Spartanburg County’s share is $62.1 million, and the City of Spartanburg received $16.5 million. The city’s staff has not yet presented a list of projects for City Council approval.
Alverson said all ARPA funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026.
He said the county received $200 million in ARPA project requests from local organizations. Many of the requests were from nonprofits for projects costing less than $500,000, he said.
Using a rating system, Alverson said staff identified about $50 million in “timely” nonprofit projects that align with the county’s vision of projects that yield long-term benefits.
He said allowable COVID-related uses of the funds include: replacing up to $10 million in lost public sector revenue from the acute recession that accompanied the pandemic, public health and economic impacts, premium pay for employees, water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
County Council earlier this year appropriated $4.5 million in ARPA funds for broadband to provide high-speed internet service to up to 4,000 homes in rural areas of the county.
Spartanburg County animal shelter qualifies for ARPA fund spending
At the Nov. 1 meeting, Alexander said an animal shelter qualifies for ARPA fund spending under the public sector category, “which allows broader latitude.”
The county has been awaiting a final report from a consultant, Dr. Sara Pizano of Team Shelter USA in Pompano Beach, Florida, to determine the ideal animal shelter to build and potential staffing needs. County Council budgeted $200,000 to identify the cost and scope of building a new animal shelter.
Last month, County Council approved a one-year extension with Greenville County to shelter up to 200 dogs and cats each month from Spartanburg County, at a cost to Spartanburg County of $29,000 a month. The contract runs through Nov. 1, 2023, and has a one-year renewable clause.
The need for a shelter was prompted by Greenville Animal Care’s announcement this past April that it would end an 11-year-old agreement with Spartanburg County on June 30 due to space needs of its own.
However, Greenville County agreed to extend the deadline indefinitely, allowing Spartanburg County time to find a solution to its animal sheltering needs. Greenville began accepting Spartanburg County’s strays in 2011 when Spartanburg County split with the Spartanburg Humane Society over economic concerns. Spartanburg County was paying the humane society $700,000 a year.
After the split, Spartanburg County then contracted with Greenville County Animal Care for half that amount to take stray cats and dogs from Spartanburg County.
The Humane Society at 150 Dexter Road is also looking to build a new shelter to address its space needs.
300 condemned structures in Spartanburg County
Meanwhile, Assistant County Administrator Kevin Stiens recommended $2.5 million to create a revolving fund that can be used to address blight by demolishing condemned residential and commercial buildings to make way for new affordable housing.
He said there are 300 condemned structures countywide – 156 of which are listed for demolition. He said $1 million would be used to demolish 100 condemned homes in the Una, Saxon, Arcadia area of the county next to the city of Spartanburg.
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County Councilman David Britt said removing blight will not only improve the appearance of that area but also attract new growth.
“When you look at that area between what the Northside Initiative is doing and the development that’s coming from Arcadia, it would be like giving a shot of adrenaline to Una, Saxon and Arcadia,” he said.
“I think you’ll see an explosion of great things happening,” he added. “The timing couldn’t be better for this. It’s going to make a big, quick change in Spartanburg.”
Getting ahead of growth in Spartanburg County
Britt and Council Chairman Manning Lynch said they support Spartanburg Water’s plan to extend sewer lines to northern parts of the county.
“That’s good use of those dollars,” Lynch said. “It will benefit the county in ways you can’t even imagine.”
Britt said, “Growth is going to happen. It’s coming. It’s going to go in septic systems, or we’re going to put it in the sewer system.”
According to the staff’s proposal, $4.7 million would go toward the Ben’s Creek Phase 3 gravity sewer project near Highway 101 in southwestern Spartanburg County.
Another $20.1 million would go toward extending sewer lines into the northern part of the county toward Inman and Landrum with the Meadows Creek gravity sewer project.
Britt said the 3.3 million-square-foot Michelin distribution center on Highway 101 southwest of Reidville, which opened more than three years ago, is on its own septic system because there was no access to sewer lines when it was built.
“If you had sewer out there, all of a sudden the other industries will come near it and subdivisions will grow off of it in an organized manner,” Britt said.
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