Roanoke Rapids City Council will begin exploring ways to use $2,281,874 in American Rescue Plan Act funding it has received.
The city received the first allotment on August 13, according to a memo contained in Tuesday night’s work session agenda package. Council voted unanimously to accept the funding.
The memo said the city is still awaiting guidance from the United States Treasury Department on allowable uses of the funding.
According to a proposed grant project ordinance for the funding the following broad uses have been spelled out:
Supporting public health expenditures by funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare and certain public health and safety staff.
Addressing negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries and the public sector.
Replacing lost public sector revenue by using the funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced by the pandemic.
Providing premium pay for essential workers by offering additional support to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risk because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.
Investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and expanding access to broadband internet.
Interim City Manager Kelly Traynham said the funds can’t be used for debt service payments or replenishing rainy day funds.
She said some municipal governments are allocating percentages of the ARPA funding to certain areas. “We have a lot of needs. We want to make sure we use the funds in the best way possible.”
Councilman Carl Ferebee said he wants to see the council come up with a process and leaned to allocating a percentage of the funds to various departments. “There is not a lot of guidance, it’s still a little vague. I’d like to see us reach out to the (North Carolina League of Municipalities). I know we have to spend it. I’d like to see us do that (the percentage method).”
Traynham said none of the dollars can be spent until city administrators have blessings from the council. “Each department can ID project needs and we’ll have a more rational decision-making method. We don’t want to risk having to pay it back.”
The second installment of funding is expected next year and the city has until 2026 to expend the funds, she said.