At a special called meeting of the Sedalia Town Council on Wednesday, Aug. 31, held to discuss using federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) money for a water and sewer system for the town, a standing-room-only crowd had other ideas.
Now the town has different plans for the money it has yet to receive but is expected to be given by Guilford County government.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has already voted to hand out tens of millions of dollars to other small towns in the county – and a lot of that money is slated to go toward establishing or enhancing water systems in those towns. However, many who live in the relatively rural towns fear the development that might come with a municipal water system and they are therefore highly opposed to moving from well and septic.
Before the August 31 meeting, the Town of Sedalia gave public notice of the meeting with the following stated purpose: “Discussion and vote to approve official request to Guilford County for ARP funding for water and wastewater services.”
One of the few people who is signed up to get notices of town meetings is Ed Piotrowski – who ran unsuccessfully for a Sedalia City Council seat last year. Piotrowski ran on the promise of fighting water and sewer for the town, which he said most people in Sedalia do not want.
Piotrowski said he was alarmed when he saw the notice and he made copies of the email announcing the meeting and handed them out to people in town.
“I see the notices but otherwise people would have never known,” he said.
The Sedalia City Council meetings usually draw only a handful of people.
He said a PowerPoint presentation slide set up before the August 31 meeting showed acceptable uses of the money with water and sewer services highlighted as a use.
The two dozen seats for audience members were filled and others stood in the packed meeting room where an overwhelming number of citizens in attendance had other ideas for that money.
In the end, the residents gave a lot of input and the town council adopted a request to use the funds for other purposes, including better broadband internet, administrative assistance for the town’s government and improving existing septic systems.
Though the Guilford County Board of Commissioners has not yet awarded the federal rescue money to the town, it’s expected to do so at an upcoming meeting.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, when asked about the potential allocation of Rescue Plan money for Sedalia, said, “We have to take care of our small towns.”