Elkins Mayor Establishes ARPA Advisory Committee
Elkins, W. Va., June 4, 2021: Mayor Jerry Marco has established an ad-hoc committee to advise the Elkins council as it considers how to make use of approximately $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fiscal Recovery Funds (FRF) awarded to the city earlier this year. The ARPA Advisory Committee meets for the first time on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton explains that the committee will first review guidance documents from the U.S. Treasury Department, which were only released several weeks ago.
“Before council can start considering specific expenditures, we need to make sure we have a good grasp of what is allowed under ARPA rules,” she says. “The rules are more than 150 pages long, so that is going to take a little time. These are also interim rules, meaning there could be changes as we go along, much as there were with CARES Act funds.”
The Treasury Department’s interim rules state that ARPA funds may be used in four broad categories: to respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts; to provide premium pay to workers performing essential work during the public health emergency; to replace lost public sector revenues; and to make investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
ARPA disbursements may not be used for deposit into pension funds or to offset reduction in tax revenues “resulting from a change in law, regulation, or administrative interpretation.” ARPA funds also may not be used as savings for future spending needs.
The ARPA Advisory Committee consists of the chairpersons of each of council’s five standing committees. The committee’s chairperson will be Mike Hinchman (chairperson of the Finance Committee). The committee’s other members are Marilynn Cuonzo (Municipal Properties Committee), Rob Chenoweth (Personnel Committee), David Parker (Public Safety Committee), and Nanci Bross-Fregonara (Rules & Ordinances).
Mayor Marco says he wants community expectations about this money to remain realistic.
“This is absolutely once-in-a-lifetime money for Elkins,” says Marco. “That said, I hope everyone will keep in mind the high cost of materials these days. It’s a lot of money, but it won’t go as far as it would have just a few years ago.”
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, ARPA funds will be distributed in two equal disbursements, half in 2021 and half in 2022. ARPA funds cannot be used to cover expenditures made prior to March 3, 2021. Funds must be obligated no later than December 31, 2024, and expenditures to cover those obligations must occur no later than December 31, 2026.
“Council understands that time is of the essence, because this is a relatively compressed timeframe,” says Marco. “However, they also understand we need to act very deliberately in using these windfall funds. This committee is going to play a vital role in making sure we all have a good understanding of the rules as we start to consider possible projects and expenditures.”