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Beloit Holds Public Meeting on Federal Pandemic Aid

The City of Beloit hosted a workshop Monday, Sep. 27 that focused on federal pandemic aid that the city received. The City of Beloit was allocated $15.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars. 

   The city already received a $7.6 Million installment in July. It is unclear how the City of Beloit is planning to spend its federal pandemic aid, the Beloit City Council and staff want it to have a long lasting impact on the city. 

   According to the Beloit Daily News, around a dozen residents were in attendance. Finance Director/ Interim City Clerk-Treasurer Eric Miller along with Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Lurther explained the aspects that entail the aid. 

   The funds must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026 according to federal regulations. Any money not obligated or spent by those dates will be returned to the federal government. The second installment of the funds is expected to be received in the coming months. 

   Miller, Luther and the councilors all agreed that the funds need to be allocated thoughtfully and equitably to make sure they have the most impact citywide. 

   “We need to make them count. We most likely won’t see these types of funds in our lifetime again so we need to evaluate what projects will have the most lasting impact on the community,” Miller said to the Beloit Daily News. “This is a very deliberate approach—We are not in any hurry to spend the money. There’s time to evaluate the long-term impacts,” he added. 

   States and cities across the country are slow to spend their federal pandemic money. More than half the states and nearly two-thirds of the roughly 90 largest cities reported no initial spending. The governments reported future plans for about 40% of their total funds, according to AP News. 

   Funding use requirements include: Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic or its negative economic impacts; provide premium pay to essential workers during the public health emergency; revenue reduction relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the pandemic; make necessary investments in water, sewer, stormwater and broadband infrastructure.

   “The city will use various criteria in determining how to spend the funds, officials said, guided by specific needs, including but not limited to: lead water service replacements; census tracts hardest hit by COVID-19; water main replacements of shallow pipes; areas prone to water main breaks; fire flows; regulatory compliance; roadway conditions and the impact on future economic development and housing,” said the Beloit Daily News in an article regarding the meeting. 

   The City of Beloit is not only looking to allocate funds to residents but also to businesses too. Councilor Kevin Leavy said the city needs to look at all aspects for funding rather than certain groups. The city may start a proposal process to examine the possible water and sewer extensions to have prior knowledge before allocating funding. 

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