U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, II introduced the Building Rural Communities Act (H.R. 1632) this week to assist rural communities with obtaining the critical technical assistance or financial planning necessary to construct community enhancement projects in a more cost effective manner. Southerland's bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), directs 3-5% of existing funding in the USDA's Rural Development Essential Communities Facilities program for technical assistance.
"Rural municipalities, country towns, and small farming communities form the backbone of North and Northwest Florida," Southerland said. "Unfortunately, across America many of these bedrock communities are fading away because they can't match the access to infrastructure and services that larger cities provide. Our legislation will make it easier for rural communities to thrive by providing the technical assistance and project planning they need to strengthen public safety, public health, and public access to upgraded services -- all at no additional cost to taxpayers."
Similar project planning has already been utilized to build or upgrade water and wastewater projects in Marianna, Blountstown, Rosedale in Gadsden County, and Taylor County. Southerland's bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture for further consideration.