GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls City Commission has begun to discuss how to use federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds given to Great Falls to help offset the effects of dealing with Covid.
The city was allocated more than $19 million and received half of it in May. The second half will be given in May 2022 and this money must by spent by 2026.
The federal guidelines suggest the money be prioritized on “low-income and those disproportionately affected by Covid-19.”
They also provide four categories on what the money can be used for: responding to the public health emergency, providing premium pay for essential workers, providing government services to the extent of government’s revenue loss, and to make necessary water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure improvements.
City Manager Greg Doyon explained that the projects must be directly related to the Covid pandemic and that the commission will continue discussions on what to prioritize with the money they’ve been given this year.
He said, “I think most entities would like to have it all at once so they know what they exactly have…but in this building market, maybe that little pause is okay, because materials and logistics and costs for infrastructure projects are a lot higher right now.”
So far, the city has received more than 140 proposals from most of the city departments, but most have been denied due to being indirectly related to the pandemic.
Public comments regarding ARPA may be made at City Commission work sessions or commission meetings.
You can visit the city website for more information about the ARPA funds.