MILTON — Millions of dollars are headed Milton’s way to help the town emerge from the pandemic on stronger footing.
At the April 19 Milton Selectboard meeting, Town Manager Don Turner announced the Town of Milton is poised to receive $3 million from the federal American Rescue Plan.
The American Rescue Plan aims to provide relief to state, local and Tribal governments to continue to support their public health response and to take steps towards a strong and equitable economic recovery, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The plan, which totals $1.9 trillion, includes $2.7 billion for Vermont. The majority of Vermont’s allocation is being distributed among municipalities by population size.
The Town of Milton is currently set to receive $1.07 million, but an additional $2 million is likely on the way.
Unlike other U.S. states, Vermont does not have county-level government, so the funds allocated for Chittenden County are being distributed among the county’s towns on a per-capita basis.
“If that happens as people are predicting, then that would be an additional $2 million to the Town of Milton,” Turner said.
So far, Vermont towns know the money can be used to recoup COVID-induced shortfalls and be spent on public water, sewer, broadband and economic development projects. Towns have until the end of 2024 to utilize it.
Although Milton should receive the $3 million sometime in the next four to six weeks, more specific guidance as to how it can be used is still several months away.
Though the directives are currently vague, Selectboard Clerk Chris Taylor was optimistic the town will be able to utilize these dollars in productive ways.
“Within the parameters that have been set already, there are a lot of projects we could spend this money on,” he said.
Vice Chair Michael Morgan said he thought part of the funding should be spent on fixing Munson Hill, a precariously sloped road in West Milton that was partly washed away by Hurricane Irene in 2011.
“This is a golden opportunity to take care of Munson Hill,” Morgan said.
While Turner agreed repairs need to be made to the slope as soon as possible, he said Munson Hill might be better suited to be paid for by the proposed $2 trillion federal infrastructure bill, which is currently being debated on Capitol Hill.
Chair Darren Adams offered his view that part of Milton’s portion should be spent to spur economic development in town — whether that be through grants to local businesses and individuals, or other money-making projects.
“I personally think anything we can do with this to spur economic development and save the taxpayers of Milton money has got to be on the list of things to consider,” Adams said. “Philosophically, we know this is money that our great, great grandchildren who haven’t been born yet are going to have to pay an enormous amount for, so when it shows up in our bank account, we need to spend it wisely.”
Morgan and Taylor agreed with Adams. Turner said as more guidance is announced, he will continue to share the information publicly.