Thurmont To Receive More Than $6-Million In ARPA Funds

The municipality hopes to use the money on several projects in town.

Thurmont, Md (KM) The Town of Thurmont is receiving $6.7-million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. The money from this federal law is being distributed to municipalities and counties around the country to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The town has already received half of that amount, and will receive the other half next year.

At Last Tuesday’s Town Commissioners’ meeting, Mayor John Kinnaird said the municipality is limited in how it can spend this money. “The big ticket item that we can spend this money on is infrastructure like waste water and water lines,” he says. “Not even electric. It’s only waste water and water lines. Roads we can’t spend it. We can’t spend it on sidewalks. We can’t repave stuff.”

One of the projects he discussed last week was replacing water and sewer main lines from North Church Street to Woodside Avenue, including Catoctin High School. “There’s actually a facility under the roadway out there that was decommissioned many years ago, a pump facility for the high school that we’re going to remove, and put in an all new water line, a new service line, new waste water line,  new connection laterals to the clean outs,” he says.

That’s expected to cost $2.8-million, the Mayor says.

Another project relater to water and sewer would allow citizens to pay their utility bills to the town on line. “This is something we’ve had a lot of people ask us about over the years,” says Mayor Kinnaird. “It’s an expensive process. The software that we currently use–some is at least 35 years old, I believe,–will not interface with any new software. So we’ve already signed a contract for the base program.”

He goes on to say that a lot of people were stuck at home during the early days of the pandemic year, and couldn’t get out to pay their utility bills. That project is estimated to cost $175,000.

Also, the town is considering using the ARPA money to help citizens who are in arrears on their utility bills. “We are required to consider that as part of the funding that we’re receiving,” says Mayor Kinnaird. “We need to help people who have had trouble making their water and sewer payments based on issues  we’ve had with COVID; loss of employment, anything like that.”

After going through the list last Tuesday, Mayor Kinnaird remarked that the total cost for all of these projects at $6.6-million which uses up most of the ARPA money the town is expected to receive. But Town Commissioner Wayne Hooper said the municipality should be grateful what it’s getting. “We can look at it and say ‘I think we should have gotten more; or we should have gotten  it this way or that way.’ I think we ought to just be grateful,” Hooper said. “Thank you, and we’re going to use to the best of our ability.”

“I think it’s kind of poetic that we’re using it to cover mandates from the state and the federal government,” Kinnaird commented.

The Mayor said he and the Town Commissioners will discuss each project “in-depth” before making a final decision.

The Town Commissioners hold a meeting on Tuesday night beginning at 7:00.

By Kevin McManus