Shopping carts collected by the Aberdeen Public Works Department are taken to the wastewater treatment plant. City Code Enforcement contacts the shops that own the carts, who are expected to pick them up. (Courtesy Kellie Daniels)

Shopping carts collected by the Aberdeen Public Works Department are taken to the wastewater treatment plant. City Code Enforcement contacts the shops that own the carts, who are expected to pick them up. (Courtesy Kellie Daniels)

Aberdeen eligible for more than $4.5 million in federal COVID relief funds

The Aberdeen City Council meeting on Wednesday featured discussions on revenue, July 4 fireworks, downtown cleanup efforts, and more than $4.5 million in federal COVID relief money coming to the city through the American Rescue Plan Act.

COVID funds

The city of Aberdeen has qualified for $4,677,403 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for COVID-related expenditures and investments in public health and water and broadband infrastructure.

According to a report to the council from Finance Director Patricia Soule, the city will receive the funds in two installments. A requirement of receiving the funds is the development of a project and expenditure report annually for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The report is to be provided by Oct. 31 starting this year and every year until the funds are spent.

Soule’s report states city staff is working with Mayor Pete Schave to come up with a priority list for the funds and will bring that list to the council next month for further discussion.

Eligible expenditure categories in the latest federal COVID relief package, which provides money to cities, counties and states, include: addressing negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency; replacing lost public sector revenue; providing premium pay for essential workers; supporting public health expenditures; and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

July 4 fireworks

“I’m happy to announce this July 4 we will have a fireworks show,” said Aberdeen Parks Director Stacie Barnum.

The annual Splash Festival, which usually takes place over the July 4 holiday, had to be canceled due to COVID restrictions.

But Barnum said there will be fireworks and the city is hammering out details and advertising materials for the show.

Revenue picture

City Community Development Director Lisa Scott said “revenue is up for the year,” calling it “encouraging.” She said the city has averaged about 1,335 permit applications a year over the last 19 years, and already this year, as of June 7, the city had 1,041.

Scott added that “We’ve seen a lot of turnover in ownership of homes,” indicating “people are liking Aberdeen and moving here” and there is an increase in owner occupied dwellings, “and that is driving permit revenues up” as new homeowners take on permitted repairs.

City cleanup

Public Works Director Rick Sangder told the council that since his department took over cleanup of downtown and the homeless camp adjacent to City Hall about four months ago, his crew has picked up more than 720 shopping carts scattered throughout the town.

He said staff is doing a weekly walk-through of downtown to pick up garbage “and I think they are doing a good job with it.”

The carts are taken to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, where they are cleaned.

“Once we have an accumulation we report it to code enforcement and they call the stores and they are supposed to come and pick them up,” he said. “It’s not a perfect situation or solution, but it’s all we have right now.”

Councilwoman Liz Ellis asked if stores were being responsive to piking up their carts.

“All I know is they disappear,” said Sangder.

Mayor Pete Schave told the council he recently had a lengthy discussion with the manager of one store that has had a lot of its carts disappear into downtown (he didn’t specify which).

“We brainstormed some ideas and he was real agreeable,” said Schave. “I made it real clear to him I didn’t feel taxpayers should be babysitting their carts and he agreed.”

Since that meeting, however, Schave has not heard back and said “I need to put another bug in their ear again I guess.”