Athens City Council members passed a resolution Monday night opposing President Donald Trump’s cuts to a commission intended to help Athens and Appalachia.
Trump’s new budget would cut funding to the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency that funds infrastructure and development projects throughout Appalachia.
Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said the commission provided important funding to the local area.
“The ARC is an incredibly important source of revenue for the city of Athens and the region around Athens,” Fahl said. “We all know that when regions do better, cities do better.”
Councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, said the ARC helped right many wrongs in Appalachia.
“I was born and raised over in Vinton County,” Risner said. “All my life I saw coal, timber, limestone and iron extracted out of the county going someplace else and very little coming back. The ARC, at least in some way, was correcting that.”
The ARC gave $2 million in grants to Ohio University to help with economic development in coal-impacted communities, Fahl said.
“This is something that has been put on the chopping block by the Trump administration, even though they (the Trump Administration) support coal,” Fahl said.
In a previous Post report, Council President Chris Knisely said the ARC has provided Athens with funding for projects throughout the years.
“Those funds have helped with over $1 million worth of projects,” Knisely said. “It’s very critical for us.”
Council members also passed several ordinances, including approving the city’s Sustainability Action Plan, renewing a contract with the Athens County Public Defender’s Office, and using leftover funds from a 2014 Pool Levee to make the Community Center more accessible.
In a previous Post report, Risner said the money could only be used for the Community Center due to being passed under the Community Center improvement levy.
“There’s some of that money still left over, and (we are) able to utilize that with the community center today,” he said. “Those moneys cannot be used for anything else, they have to be exclusively for the community center.”