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UPDATE: On April 13, the Town Council discussed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) final rule and the ability for certain local governments, including the Town, to accept their entire distribution as a standard allowance for the provision of government services. The Council voted unanimously to take the standard allowance and to continue to follow the Town policy for the allocation of ARPA funds as established by the Council in September 2021.
In September 2021, the Town Council decided to accept its $2.4 million grant of Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds appropriated under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Council made this decision because the funds offer the Town an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors both within and outside our borders that we might not otherwise be able to do without the funds. The Council also heard a wide range of thoughtful and constructive input on the use of the ARPA funds. This feedback prompted the Council to adopt a formal, transparent policy to inform decisions about funding ARPA-eligible activities. The policy guides the Council to direct ARPA funds toward activities that provide long term benefits to Town residents and the broader community.
The ARPA law gives municipalities the flexibility to direct their grants to activities most suited to their needs, as long as the activities fall within one of the four federal use categories. The Town seeks to make the most judicious and beneficial use of its ARPA grant and therefore, the Council adopted general guidelines to inform potential applicants and Town staff of the Town’s priority uses of its ARPA funds. The guidelines are not binding, and Council can adjust the allocation as necessary to meet changing demands for funding. In December 2021, the Town Council decided to allocate the Town’s first tranche of funds to two sets of activities.
We took this decision for several reasons. First, this approach will help us amplify the impact of current Town programs with ARPA funding without the addition of new staff or contract services to administer the grant. The Town has a long-standing contribution policy aimed at assistance to nonprofits; the ARPA grant will enable the Town to broaden our contributions to nonprofits that have suffered adverse economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Town also supports green infrastructure through our tree canopy programs. The ARPA grant will enable us to fund additional infrastructure activities that mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. Secondly, allocating ARPA funds among defined activities better informs applicants about Town priorities, and is consistent with practices of other jurisdictions that have declared how they will direct expenditures of their ARPA grants.
The Town welcomes applications for ARPA assistance from organizations that, while serving Town residents, also serve others. Such applications, as well as proposals from Town staff to use ARPA funding for infrastructure investments, will be deliberated openly with Town staff and residents before final funding decisions are made.