On April 6, 2020, Governor Bill Lee announced $200 million in grants to be distributed to every county and city government across Tennessee for one-time, local expenses in fiscal year 2021. Funding was based on population as published by the U.S. Census Bureau. Each county was to receive at least $500,000, with each city or municipality to receive at least $30,000. The grant guidelines stated that funds may be used for road projects, I.T. upgrades, capital maintenance, utility system upgrades, and public safety projects. Certain disaster-related expenses are also eligible for funding. One-time expenses related to COVID-19 are eligible including supply and equipment purchase, cleaning, emergency food and shelter programs.
During his review of the documents showing the first round of grant appropriations in March, State Representative David Byrd realized that Wayne County had been designated to receive much less grant money than they were eligible for. Upon further research by Rep. Byrd, he discovered that the state had not shown Wayne County as being a distressed county, which it is. “I realized that due to the simple error of Wayne County not being designated as a distressed county, we were being shorted grant money that we were eligible for,” said Rep. Byrd.
Representative Byrd went on to explain that the state had erroneously designated Van Buren County as distressed, which they are not. Therefore, they had been marked to receive more grant funding than they should.
Due to Representative Byrd’s discovery of the error, the state finally corrected the mistake at the end of the legislative session. The previously appropriated grant funding for Wayne County was $628,404.00, but $421,024.00 was added to Wayne County and was removed from Van Buren County’s funding to correct the error. This made the total amount appropriated to Wayne County $1,049,428. Wayne County will also receive an additional $159,623.00, as will several other counties, after the amounts awarded to Davidson and Shelby counties were capped at a lower amount than what they were originally awarded. That money was distributed among several of the distressed counties. This makes the total grant amount awarded to Wayne County $1,209,051.00.
In addition to the funding going to the county, the cities of Collinwood, Clifton, and Waynesboro will also receive grant funding. Collinwood will receive $50,832.00, Clifton will receive $88,878.00, and Waynesboro will receive $81,220.00.