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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon-Bibb allots $9.3m to reduce violence, boost tourism, help students

County must allocate remaining $9m from $76m in American Rescue Plan Act funds by the end of 2024

Macon-Bibb County is allocating more than $9 million of its remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds for a variety of programs to curb violence, help with trauma care, provide student mentors, fund blight mitigation, boost tourism and lure more flights to the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

During Tuesday’s county commission meetings, Mayor Lester Miller said the county will have about $9 million remaining before depleting the nearly $76 million in federal funds issued for COVID-19 relief.

In this round of allocations, $3 million will go into the Blight Elimination Revolving Loan Fund which pays for the county to remove dangerous structures, clear and acquire the lots for the Land Bank Authority to try to sell to developers.

The county is nearing its 600th demolition.

Through a separate fund, the Macon-Bibb County Affordable Housing Fund Board also will be able to accept applications for low-interest loans to enable homeowners to make repairs and keep their homes from falling into blight. Contractors also will be able to apply for low-cost loans for providing new affordable housing in the community.

In this latest ARPA allocation, commissioners also earmarked $3 million to Visit Macon to fund programs that enhance tourism.

An additional $1 million will go toward incentivizing more flights and airlines operating out of Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

Miller explained that if a passenger airline wants to fly out of Macon, this money will compensate the airline by paying for any unoccupied seats. The airport’s current carrier, Contour, which offers flights to Baltimore-Washington Airport, gets similar federal subsidies.

The mayor said the pilot shortage could delay future plans, but he wants to be ready with available funds should another carrier decide to come to Macon.

In an effort to combat violence, the county is setting aside $1 million for violence interrupter programs where people go into communities to try to diffuse potentially violent conflicts. Another $1 million is earmarked for Atrium Health Navicent for indigent care, trauma services and possible work with a Cure Violence program that considers violence a community health issue.

Miller said agreements are pending on how the money exactly will be spent. The county has to have all the funds allocated by the end of 2024, and those entities receiving money have another two years to spend it.

A separate Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant of nearly $142,000 will expand the sheriff’s co-responder program that provides mental health professionals to assist law enforcement officers.

The Commission also allocated $353,000 of the ARPA funds to the Communities in Schools of Central Georgia project which provides mentors for students in 12 Bibb County public schools and provides assistance for families to help keep kids in school.

Grants, honors and road work

In Tuesday’s meetings, the Commission also approved professional services agreements for counseling services for domestic violence offenders through the Swift, Certain, and Fair Supervision Program. 

Commissioners moved $1.25 million in SPLOST funds for sidewalks on Pinehill Drive and Hollingsworth Road and repairs on Mead Road. They agreed to allow the mayor to apply for a $2.3 million 2024 Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant for additional road work through the Georgia Department of Transportation, which requires about $705,0oo in local matching funds.

The county also accepted a $4,500 grant for veterinarian services for sheriff’s office explosives detection dogs and a $10,000 grant for firefighting personal protective equipment.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda, the Friends of Rosa Parks Square Board was reorganized under the supervision of the mayor, instead of mayor pro tem as originally constituted. Board members’ terms also were reduced from five years to two.

Commissioners agreed to honor pastors of Union Baptist Church by dedicating a portion of Kitchens Street for Revs. Hosea Rancifer and David Stanley.

The Commission also accepted the donation of a memorial bench at Amerson River Park in honor of the late Susan Davis.

The county also designated October as Pedestrian Safety month and members of the Pedestrian Safety Review Board plan several events to promote safety for all who navigate roads and highways.

Here are highlights from the proceedings captured in social media posts sent during the meeting. 

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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