SCHENECTADY – The city plans to launch an online application in the coming days that will allow organizations to apply for a portion of the $ 53 million American Rescue Plan Act funds received earlier this year, although the exact manner in which the money will be allocated remains to be determined. .
Mayor Gary McCarthy, at a city council finance committee meeting on Monday, said he hoped the request would be posted on the city’s website by the end of the week, but noted that the board has yet to decide on the process that will determine which organizations will receive funding.
Once the application is launched, organizations will have until December 31 to apply. Applications will begin to be considered in January, McCarthy said.
“This is the first phase,” he said. “We’re going to get more money next year, so that made the schedule a bit tighter than initially envisioned, but it’s to get people to think about it and get the process started.”
Funds received under the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, approved by Congress earlier this year, can be used by local governments to recover lost revenue incurred during the pandemic, to deal with to the negative economic impacts of the public health emergency, provide a bonus to essential employees and cover a number of infrastructure projects involving water, sewage and broadband.
The city has received $ 26.4 million in ARPA funds to date, with a second installment expected next spring.
Only part of the funding has been spent, of which $ 8.9 million is used to recover lost revenue and $ 4.3 million that has been allocated as part of next year’s budget. A total of $ 233,000 was divided between the Boys & Girls Club and the city police and fire departments.
To help determine the best use of the funds, the city hosted a number of community forums and launched an online survey in September to seek feedback from residents.
The results of the survey – which received 191 responses – show a strong demand for greater community investment.
In total, 72% of those surveyed said eliminating environmental hazards such as litter, vacant and dilapidated buildings and overgrown land was a “high priority”. In addition, 77% of respondents said improving streets, sidewalks and drainage were high priority items.
Improving access to food and food services was a high priority for 68% of respondents, while providing housing opportunities to the homeless was a high priority for 59% of respondents.
McCarthy, in an interview after the meeting, said he was not surprised by the results of the investigation.
“It’s kind of consistent with the things we’ve talked about, the things we know,” he said.
He added that the board must decide how the funds will be allocated, which includes deciding whether to appoint a special committee to review requests and whether to designate an amount that can be spent on certain initiatives.
A timeline for deciding on the process is unclear, although council members said it was important residents are included in the process.
“I think it’s really important that since it’s such a unique thing that we get input from the community,” City Councilor Marion Porterfield said at the meeting.
McCarthy, meanwhile, is hoping to gain a better understanding of the funding available so the city does not allocate ARPA funding to projects that may be eligible for other funds.
He pointed to the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, signed by President Joseph Biden on Monday, as a possible flow of funding that can be used to repair some of the city’s infrastructure.
“There are still other sources of funding,” he said. “There’s the one that was signed today and others that are available on an application process, so it’s a question of whether there are ways to access some of these funds to mobilize resources. within the community in order to get the most dollars here for the residents of Schenectady. “
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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