On March 11, President Joseph R. Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which established the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. ARPA provides funding for many programs and services nationwide. It includes benefits directly to individuals, such as recovery rebates, extended unemployment benefits, and additional assistance for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It also includes assistance to small businesses and to state and local governments as well as school districts. Additionally, $360 billion of this one-time aid will be directly allocated to states and localities on a formulaic basis. Through the passage of ARPA, the City will be allocated $59.4 million in two equal allotments (May 2021 and May 2022).
On July 6, the Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a $29.8 million allocation plan for the City’s first half of funding. The projects in the plan align with the City’s strategic COVID-19 recovery framework goals to ensure that businesses thrive; everyone has access to their basic needs; recovery lifts everyone; and the City makes long-term investments for its future. These include:
A full description of each project or program can be viewed here. The intent of this one-time funding is for the City to spend it in ways that improve quality of life in Alexandria, for the city’s immediate recovery needs and as a long-term investment for tomorrow. City staff will provide quarterly updates to City Council with progress on the projects. An allocation plan for the second tranche will be developed in late fall 2021.
- July 6, 2021: City Council approved allocation plan for the first allotment of funds ($29.8 million)
- June 19, 2021: Public Hearing on ARPA potential projects. Click here to view the docket and public comment.
- June 9, 2021: City Council received an update and discussed the development of a potential projects list . The list is shown in order of priorities, as determined by staff, with consideration to community feedback, “shovel-readiness,” equity, and cost.
- April 30 – May 13, 2021: The City sought feedback from the community on ARPA funding uses. The process included distribution of an online survey and two virtual public meetings, one on Saturday, May 8 and the second on Monday, May 10. Information on this process and the feedback can be found here.
- March 23, 2021: City Council received initial information about ARPA and the spending plan development process (Docket item #7). Council also approved bridge funding from ARPA to allow continued spending on food insecurity and rental assistance between April 1 and July 6, 2021.
How and when can ARPA funds be used?
- The permitted use of the
funds, as stated in the law, are proscribed and limited as follows:
- To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
- To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers;
- For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID–19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency; and
- To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
- The U.S. Treasury Department will distribute the funds in two equal allotments, one received in May 2021 and the second anticipated in May 2022
- The projects/programs should be “shovel-ready”
- The projects/programs must be completed before 2024
- There is no expectation for the program to continue after 2024
- The City is also considering the following factors when determining uses:
- Addressing a need clearly exaggerated by COVID-19
- A program/project vetted through prior community processes
- An effort that helps achieve strategic plan goals
Between April 30 to May 13, the City sought community feedback on potential ARPA funding uses. The process included distribution of an online survey and two virtual public meetings, one on Saturday, May 8 and the second on Monday, May 10. Staff directly reached out to community organizations, boards, and commissions, including the COVID-19 Community Response Group, to ensure their participation and assist with information distribution.
City staff used the feedback to develop an allocation plan for the first tranche of funding, carefully considering use of these one-time resources, within the designated time frame, as an investment in the community. The first part of the plan will consider spending of funds received in 2021. The second spending plan will be further developed in Fall 2021, in anticipation of the second allotment of funding in 2022.
Project and Program Proposals and Process
City Staff followed the process below to gather and consider almost ninety program or project proposals:
- This process began by Departments submitting potential projects and programs that had previously gone through a stakeholder vetted planning process and had been unfunded or planned for in the out years.
- Departments then added to the list programs and projects that will address issues exacerbated by COVID-19.
- Following the community engagement period (April 30 - May 14), Departments then refined and/or added proposals based on the feedback.
- Once the Treasury Department issued the Interim Final Rule, the Staff Team further refined the list to ensure that proposals met the regulations.
- Staff Teams then reviewed the projects to consider whether the project and programs were feasible within the timeframe, had gone through a community process, furthered equity criteria, thoroughness of cost estimates and scalability, and potential any red flags.
- Based on these considerations, the proposals were then prioritized
to fit within four quadrants, as shown below:
- Tier 1&2 – Projects and programs that will have the most immediate impact, are “shovel-ready,” and highly important.
- Tier 3&4 – Projects and programs that are highly important but may not be as urgent or ready to address immediately (may make more sense for the 2nd tranche.)
- Beyond Tier 4 –
Projects that may not directly qualify for the intent of ARPA funds, may not be
considered feasible within the timeframe, and/or should be considered through
other funding sources.
The proposals did not show costs at the time because many of the programs and projects are scalable and could be adjusted based on City Council discussion and consideration of priorities on June 9 and the public hearing on June 19. However, the projects do show cost by ranges.
- Following the public hearing, staff
further prioritized programs and projects based on the discussions to develop the first tranche Allocation Plan.