Fall River is methods to spend ARPA cash

FALL RIVER – Mayor Paul Coogan’s second public hearing on how the city could spend the nearly $ 70 million federal budget of the American Recovery Plan Act on the pandemic didn’t get the turnout or different ideas than a meeting he did last month, but said the administration is still on track with development projects and more aid may be in preparation for Fall River.

So far, the federal government has released half of the funds to the city, with $ 35 million in the bank.

Coogan said Paul Ferland, director of the Department of Community Utilities, has submitted projects valued at approximately $ 13 million and intends to allocate at least $ 10 million from the first round of ARPA funds to water and sanitation works.

“It’s a start and it depends on the president’s infrastructure bill, and there is talk of putting the second half of the ARPA money in the infrastructure bill,” Coogan said.

If this is the federal government’s plan, Coogan said with targeted infrastructure funding, the parameters for the nature of the projects could expand.

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So far, another $ 4.5 million from the first ARPA funding round is in the 2022 budget for lost revenue from the pandemic, which federal guidelines allow.

“If we put $ 4.5 million on lost revenue, we’ll use it again next year, that’s $ 9 million and $ 10 million on water and sewage, so that’s $ 19 million. With $ 15 million left, we have small business money to do for our city workers, and we’d like to find another way to get a real building for DCM, ”Coogan said.

More:Are vaccines needed? Mayor of Fall River, businesses in the area grapple with COVID control

The mayor said he is working with arts and nonprofit groups to also develop programs that could be funded with ARPA money.

Fall River Police Department’s new program

At the request of the city council, Coogan has already released nearly $ 300,000 towards a new Fall River Police Department program called Operation Compass to help local law enforcement agencies identify and prevent gangs, including setting up more surveillance cameras around the city.

In addition, according to Mary Sahady, the city’s chief financial officer, up to $ 17 million in ARPA funds could flow into the city from the Bristol County Commission, which also received a round of funding.

Disbursement of Bristol County Commission funds

Sahady said the Bristol County Commission is developing an application process for communities like Fall River in Bristol County to apply for ARPA funding.

“With the same eligible categories,” said Sahady.

And on Tuesday, the administration is sending the city council to accept a group of independent grants that the city recently awarded.

The grant funding will total more than $ 1.42 million in health, water and wastewater infrastructure, and public safety.

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A Health Department grant called MassCALL3 is funding the city’s Department of Health with $ 250,000 to build on the city’s drug abuse programs; and another US $ 50,000 Mass in Motion grant to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles.

Ferland’s water and sanitation department also received two grants; US Department of Commerce and Commerce for $ 1.056 million for Mothers Brook Canal Expansion Planning and Approval; and a US $ 42,950 Mass Trails grant to help the city improve and maintain trails.

Police received a $ 30,000 grant from the Sex Offender Register to help identify sex offenders who violated registration rules.

Jo C. Goode can be reached at jgoode@heraldnews.com. Support local journalism by subscribing to The Herald News today!

County-level ARPA cash freed up for native governments, Vermont delegation publicizes

After months of deliberation, the U.S. Treasury Department will allow federal Covid-19 aid funds made available to county governments to go directly to Vermont cities and towns, the state’s congressional delegation said Friday.

That means the Vermont city councils will receive an additional $ 120 million in federal funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act, passed in March, provides separate funding for state, local, and city governments. The parishes of Vermont were US $ 76 million appropriated. The Treasury Department designated counties as a form of local government and withheld county-specific money from Vermont because Vermont county governments have no mechanisms to obtain it.

Vermont counties oversee courthouses and sheriff’s departments, and their budgets are drawn up by elected assistant judges. These budgets are usually quite small. Chittenden County is the only county in Vermont with an annual budget of over $ 1 million.

So the Vermont Congressional Delegation urged federal officials to recognize the uniqueness of Vermont counties and to channel the county’s money to cities and towns that perform government functions that counties often perform in other states.

In a joint statement on Friday, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch said, “With this updated Treasury rule, US $ 120 million for the state will finally go to cities across Vermont. and these resources will help meet the needs for Vermonters across the state. “

Leahy, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to change the name during a subcommittee hearing in June.

“I would like to thank our congressional delegation for their advocacy and the Biden administration for their willingness to listen and adapt to Vermont’s unique county structure,” said Governor Phil Scott in a statement Friday. “This revision of the guidelines will allow our communities to take full advantage of the ARPA funding they are entitled to so they can make critical investments to meet their needs and help us better recover from the pandemic.”

It remains unclear how the funds will be distributed to the individual cities at the district level.

“Congress intended that these public financier funds would help local governments fill the gaps created by the pandemic, respond to the ongoing crisis and find a path to long-term recovery,” wrote Ted Brady, Executive Director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, in an email to VTDigger. “The towns and villages of Vermont appreciate the dedication of our congressional delegation and Governor Scott’s efforts to ensure funding gets through locally.”

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