How local cities are spending pandemic relief
By Kathy Turner
Last week we shared with you how local school districts are using funds distributed by the federal government through the ESSER program in answer to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. This week we will take a look at funding received by local communities through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) provided $350 billion in funding for state and local governments to assist on projects and programs for communities as a result of the pandemic. The monies were identified to help communities address concerns, primarily with infrastructures, and provide a means for paying for those projects at a time when expenditures were high and revenues impacted by reduced sales taxes.
Funds went to the states and then were distributed by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs. In Illinois, it was decided that the distributions would be made to counties and municipalities. Townships were not considered for funding. Funds were distributed based on the community’s rankings in the CDBG program which ranks smaller communities higher than large municipalities based on economic need. As such, southern Illinois communities were allocated a majority of the funds.
Counties then were tasked with distributing funds as they saw appropriate to communities within their jurisdiction. In Madison County project proposals were submitted by local municipalities for consideration. This meant that some villages and cities received an allocation from both the state and the county.
The use of funds is restricted by the ARPA bill. Funds can be used for: revenue replacement for governmental services to the extent of identified revenue lost as the result of COVID 19 (based on the previous fiscal year revenue/expenditure); COVID-19 expenditures or negative economic impacts, including economic recovery for local businesses, households, and hard-hit industries; premium pay for essential workers of the community; and/or, investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure in the community.
The goal of the funding is to aid the municipalities in addressing the impact of COVID 19 on their communities and assist in planning for future major catastrophes. For most of our local communities, the funds provided a revenue stream for infrastructure improvements that are often outside the scope of annual budgets without impacting residents to recuperate the costs.
The Village of St. Jacob received just over $179K in funding through the ARPA program. According to Mayor Richard Schiefer, funding will be used to improve the sewer infrastructure in the community. The funds will allow the village to address concerns with aging sewer systems and make the repairs needed. The funds have been allocated and planning is ongoing.
City of Troy
The City of Troy has decided to utilize their funds to recuperate increased costs in operations during the pandemic. Their annual budget for emergency responders, particularly the police department, was greatly impacted. As essential workers, there were increased calls for service and increased costs as officers became ill themselves and required replacements, often at overtime cost to the City.
But, because a large revenue stream for the city is in the form of sales tax, they saw a decrease in revenue as a result of business shutdowns to match those expenditures. They will be using their allocated $1.4 from federal funding to reimburse the cost of those services by the police department.
The city also received $235,000 in county funding allocation to address stormwater projects. Work will be done on the Bargraves Detention Pond and in the Turtle Creek subdivision to address stormwater issues in those areas.
City of Collinsville
Collinsville will use their $3.3 million allocations on something other than infrastructure. Because they suffered a large loss in tourism revenue during the pandemic, they will look to use the funds to increase those revenues for years in the future.
Collinsville will fund two major projects in the community. The first will be an Event and Food Truck Park near the city’s convention center. Design and engineering of the project will be completed this year and construction to follow soon after.
The second project will be a new construction event building in the downtown area of Collinsville. Again, design and planning are underway this year with plans to begin construction once this work is completed.
Both projects will, over time, allow the City to recuperate the lost revenues from tourism and events cancelled during the pandemic.
Village of Glen Carbon
The Village of Glen Carbon received just over $1.7 million from the federal ARPA funds. They also received $875,500 from Madison County.
A decision was made in late 2022 for Glen Carbon to move forward with construction of a new Water Treatment Plant. Prior to this, Glen Carbon contracted water service from Illinois American Water. As a result of that decision, a majority of the federal funding — $900K – will pay for the initial engineering costs for the water plant construction.
In addition, funds from ARPA are being used to improve existing water plant fixtures in preparation, including water tower painting and chlorinators. There will also be a water main replacement project funded through ARPA. These are all costs that will not have to be passed onto residents in the form of water service costs as a result of the funding stream.
The $875K in funding from Madison County will primarily go to water main replacements in the Village at a cost just over $535K. In addition, they will use funds to replace culverts in the village that have been identified as beyond repair. Final funds will again go towards water service improvements to fund a chlorinator in Booster 2 in the Village.
Some of the projects in the Village are underway and/or being bid. Others will be completed as funding allocations are made over the next two years.
Village of Maryville
The Village of Maryville received just under $1.1 million in federal ARPA funds. The funds have allowed the Village to address some much-needed storm water and sewer projects in the Village.
Funds are being used to pay for the Burdick Creek stabilization project as well as a storm water guttering project completed earlier this year. There will also be work on sewer projects to upgrade the system where Maryville connects to the Collinsville processing plant. This work impacts the sewer service for the entire Village.
Maryville was also fortunate enough to receive just over $2.9 million from the County for specific projects. Just over $700K will be used to address stormwater concerns in the Village. An additional $1.36 million will go to upgrade sewers in the community. And, finally, just over $840K will be used to upgrade the water treatment plant to assure safe drinking water for the community.
According to Mayor Craig Short, “the funding has proven to be a definite blessing for the community but also a curse.” “It is a blessing in that we have been able to complete, or plan for, some projects that are long overdue in the community,” said Short. “However, it is also a curse in that projects were identified for funding some time ago and we’re finding that bids are coming in as much as 30% higher than anticipated, which is requiring us to identify additional funds to complete the projects.”
Many of the communities in the area are facing similar problems, with supply chain shortages and increased costs in labor and supplies. But most will tell you that the ability to complete these projects is truly a windfall for the communities and will, in fact, impact all residents though most may not even realize the improvements.