Montgomery hires consultants to manage $ 85 million in federal grant funds


With the deadlines looming, Montgomery executives on Friday hired a local consulting firm for $ 42,500 per month to guide them through the process of using $ 85 million in federal funds while helping them search for more than one billion dollars in extra money.

This $ 85 million injection is part of the American Recovery Plan Act, but comes with a complex set of requirements and restrictions. Everyone involved in the meeting, including four city councilors, five county commissioners and Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed unanimously voted to hire Levitate Legal & Consulting to manage the process.

The county will pay them $ 21,832 per month and the city will pay them $ 20,667 per month as long as their service continues. The city and county will have until 2026 to spend the ARPA money, but the first deadline to submit a usage plan is August 31. Federal guidelines have not yet been finalized.

Levitation’s attorney, Susan Kennedy, said their consulting firm was also recently contacted by other municipalities. “People just realize they need help,” she said.

The company’s contract with Montgomery includes $ 22,500 per month for a range of legal and compliance work, including reviewing evolving federal guidelines, creating an online portal where the community can share ideas, assistance in the selection of companies and others involved in the process and communication with state entities. , education groups, nonprofits and others on possible grant partnerships.

Clay Mcinnis, a member of the Montgomery City Council, at the council meeting at town hall in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

It also includes $ 17,500 per month to develop and implement local programs created by the grants and $ 2,500 per month to track additional grant opportunities. Kennedy estimated that the region could benefit from more than $ 1 billion in subsidies beyond the current injection of $ 85 million.

Levitation attorney Terry Reynolds said Tuskegee recently landed a $ 3 million grant to address local health disparities, for example.

“I go through these grants every day,” Reynolds said. “There are law enforcement grants – there is a series that closed yesterday. I’m talking about programmatic grant opportunities of up to two to three million dollars per program. So there is a lot of money there.

While there is no guarantee of landing these grants, City Councilor Clay McInnis pointed out that even 10% of that money would double the region’s current total.

“It will depend on the quality of these grants,” Kennedy said. “It’s really amazing that the county and the city are working together. It also gives you an advantage in grant applications. And then partnerships with nonprofits – that sort of thing doesn’t happen everywhere in Alabama. “

County Commissioner Dan Harris talks about renovations at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.

Levitate fees do not include grant writing. The city and county each have dedicated grants staff, and county commissioner Dan Harris said the county is considering creating a dedicated grants department. If the city and county decide to use Levitate to write grants, Reynolds and Kennedy said they would provide the service at an additional cost of $ 100 to $ 125 per hour, depending on the grant.

The contract also does not require Levitate to administer the grants Montgomery wins. This service is typically provided on a percentage basis which Kennedy estimated to be about 15% of the total grant.

City and county leaders agreed to continue meeting monthly throughout the process, while forming subgroups or committees that would discuss needs in specific areas and how the money of the grant could be used.

“This money has always been there, and other places have been looking for it. We never even thought of doing things like (that), ”Harris said. “This is the reason why we still have parts of the city that are as they are. We never looked for that money.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brad Harper at bharper1@gannett.com.


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