County OKs use of rescue funds for local water districts

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Brown County Courthouse

Saying the money doesn’t have to be spent all at once, Brown County Commissioners Court members approved the use of American Rescue Plan funds Monday for projects including upgrades to local water districts.

The court took no action on other requests from entities including three school districts, the district attorney’s office and the Brown County Water Improvement District.

Brown County has received $3.6 million in American Rescue Plan funds, and will receive another $3.6 million next year.

“Seven million dollars sounds like a lot of money,” Brown County Attorney Shane Britton said. Britton noted, however, that requests from entities exceed the amount of American Rescue Plan funds the county is receiving.

On Monday, the court approved just over $1 million in funding requests including:

  • Brookesmith Special Utility District — $317,499 to purchase generators for pump stations.
  • May Water Supply Corp. — $350,284 for to update the 1960s-era system.
  • Zephyr Water Supply Corp. — $255,011 for upgrades including two generators.

Nonprofit organizations received a total of $40,900, which included Good Samaritan Ministries, the Brown County Humane Society, the Brownwood Public Library, Brown County Home Solutions, the Brown County Museum, the ARK Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter and the Center for Life Resources.

The American Rescue Plan funds will make up the difference between the organization’s requests for the 2021-’22 fiscal year and the current funding levels. Brown County Judge Paul Lilly said there is no certainty that the 2021-'22 funding level will go beyond one year.

  • Center For Life Resources — $41,021 for a van. Mental health deputies will use the van to transport mental health patients to state facilities. The court approved up to $2,000 in additional funds for a partition in the van.

Additional requests, on which the court has taken no action, include:

  • Bangs, Early and Brookesmith school districts — each district has requested $250,000. The Bangs and Early districts hope to use the funds to install fiber optic cable to improve their broadband. The Brookesmith district wants to install windows in the high school’s classrooms.
  • District attorney’s office — $1.5 million for a new software system to benefit county entities including the district attorney’s office, the courts and the sheriff's office. The current software is inefficient and can't be modernized, representatives of the district attorney's office told commissioners. First Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird compared current software to “a Model T vehicle.”

Benefits of an upgrade would include increasing public access to court documents, Bird told the court.

The Brown County Water Improvement District — $2.7 million to purchase generators for the district’s two water treatment plants.