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Incoming: $2.9 million in rescue funds

Congressman Peter Welch

 BY JASON STARR

Observer staff

Rep. Peter Welch has been making the rounds in recent weeks at meetings of Vermont municipal leaders, and Tuesday he led off the Williston Selectboard agenda. 

Welch came with news of $2.9 million in federal pandemic relief coming to the Town of Williston. For a town with an annual budget of roughly $11.5 million, “this is significant money,” Welch said. “It is a big opportunity.”

The first installment — half the total amount allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law in March — will arrive later this month, Welch said. The Champlain Valley School District is also set to receive $2 million from the legislation.

Welch encouraged focused conversations among local leaders and their constituents about how best to spend the money. While the Treasury Department has yet to set specific rules about what expenses are eligible, Welch promised flexibility and an extended timeline, at least through 2024.

“You won’t have to make pressured decisions to get money out the door,” he said.

He also said the town could make specific requests if a desired project were outside federal guidelines. 

He suggested the board look at broadband internet infrastructure, water and sewer infrastructure and “any (expense) related to COVID.”

“You have to make those decisions and work through those questions,” Welch said. “We are deferring to our community leaders to decide on the wise use and effective implementation of these funds.”

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