‘Urban’ designation could mean more federal funds for Alexandria | News
ALEXANDRIA — Most folks in Alexandria, known for generations as “Small Town USA,” probably think of their hometown as a country community.
The U.S. Census Bureau begs to differ.
As of December, the bureau now classifies municipalities with 5,000 or more people as urban, which includes Alexandria, a city of over 5,100 people. With the change, Alexandria could qualify for a variety of federal transportation and housing funds.
Jerry Bridges, executive director of the Madison County Council of Governments, expressed uncertainty about what funding the city might now be eligible to receive but noted that an 80-20 mixture of federal and local funds is already being used for the Washington Street reconstruction project, slated for 2024.
The project will bring new pavement and sidewalks along Washington Street between Chestnut and Pennsylvania streets.
According to Alan Moore, Alexandria’s director of economic development, the city has been discussing the funding of various projects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But Alexandria, now considered an urban community, might no longer quality for USDA assistance.
Moore said the USDA currently funds utility-related projects such as water system improvement and community buildings such as police departments and city halls.
Councilwoman Patty Kuhn was not aware of the census designation change, but said more federal funding could help with improvements in the community. Alexandria has not yet utilized its federal American Rescue Plan funds or its state Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) funds, Kuhn noted.
Moore said OCRA funds have recently been applied to aspects of the comprehensive plan and a phosphorous removal project for the city’s water supply.