Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) played a key role in restoring $273,000 in grant funds for Hartsville under the new budget passed by the General Assembly before lawmakers adjourned last week.
Haile, who is a member of the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, helped forge an agreement with the Tennessee House of Representatives and Gov. Bill Lee to ensure the formula did not penalize Hartsville. The Hartsville funding had been deleted by an earlier amendment affecting metropolitan forms of government meant to address grants going to Nashville and Memphis.
“I am very pleased that this funding was restored and that both Hartsville and Trousdale County will benefit from the changes made to our budget,” said Sen. Haile. “This is a critical time when these grants are essential to help local governments recover losses sustained during the pandemic. They will be a tremendous boost as we recover from the devastating economic effects of COVID-19.”
Haile was supported in his efforts to restore the funds by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster). Trousdale County will still receive $734,094 under the plan.
Haile also advocated giving counties and cities more authority on how the grant funds are spent, including allowing them to be used to offset loss of local revenue. Previously, the $210.5 million in grants could only be used for specified purposes like infrastructure and COVID-19-related expenditures. Municipalities and counties were required to file a grant request detailing proposed use of the funds with the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Haile said the local governments will not have to apply for the funds through an application process under the new plan. He said this will help expedite needed funds to cities and counties quickly so they can get relief. The legislation provides the funds will be distributed no later than July 31.
“The sooner we can get aid to our struggling cities and counties, the better,” added Haile. “This legislation will help local governments move forward and continue to provide essential services to our citizens.”
— From staff reports