Brown County Judge hopes rescue funds will go to water, school projects

Brownwood Bulletin
Water infrastructure

BROWNWOOD — Projects that would benefit water infrastructure and school districts are among Brown County Judge Paul Lilly’s ideas for using funds from the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Lilly listed the projects he will recommend to the commissioners court and stressed it will be up to the court to approve or disapprove the projects.

Brown County has received $3.6 million in federal funds through the America Rescue Plan, and will receive an additional payment next spring for a total of $7.3 million.

Water infrastructure projects include lift station and generators

Lilly said he met earlier with water utility district, who have requested:

  • Brookesmtih Special Utility District — $317,499 for a generator for its lift station.
  • Zephyr Water Supply Corp. — $255,011, also for a generator.
  • May Water Supply Corp. — $350,284 for an infrastructure overhaul.
  • Brownwood Water Improvement District — $2.7 million for two generators — one for each of its water treatment plants.

If funds are used for the water district’s generators, the county will ask the cities of Brownwood, Early, and Bangs to participate in a buy-in based on population and residents served, Lilly said.

The purpose of the generators is “to make sure that they never get caught, like this past year, when the water can’t be pumped to our residents," Lilly said, referring to the week-long February storm that disrupted power and water.

School districts have requested funds

Lilly said the Early, Bangs and Brookesmith school districts have requested funds for broadband and COVID mitigation projects.

  • Bangs — $250,000 for fiber optic improvements.
  • Early — $250,000 for fiber optic improvements.
  • Brookesmith — $250,000 to install windows in classrooms that lack windows. The windows would improve ventilation, which reduces the need for recirculated air and helps mitigate COVID, Lilly said.

“All of this is subject to the approval of the commissioners court," Lilly said. "This is just my recommendation of what to do with the money.”

Lilly also said he will recommend that commissioners agree to use some of the funds for an additional prosecutor in District Attorney Micheal Murray’s office because of the backlog of cases that occurred after COVID shut down courts.

Additionally, Lilly noted that the county clerk’s office has requested funds for the digitalization of microfiche records.

Other possible projects include new jail wing

Lilly said he has additional ideas for projects if the county has enough money left over from the America Rescue Plan, but said he is not ready to bring these projects to the commissioners court:

  • Consider building a new wing onto the Brown County Jail. That would allow inmates to be spread out more in the jail and reduce the COVID risk, Lilly said. Some of the beds could be leased to other counties for housing inmates, he said.
  • Consider creating a program to pay half the cost for residents on well water to have pipes installed from their residents to water lines already in their right-of-way.