Newtown Friends Home & Village Board Chairman Terry Christiansen Inquires About Access to ARP Funds
At the August 11, 2021, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Newtown Friends Home & Village Board Chairman Terry Christiansen asked if there is a process in place whereby non-profit groups such as his can apply for a share of the $1,024,920.93 American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds that the township has received. Mr. Christiansen noted that the cost of COVID mitigation efforts incurred by the Friends Village was significant.
To answer his question, to date (September 11, 2021), there is no such procedure yet in place for non-profits to request a share of ARP funds that Newtown Township has in the bank.
About the American Rescue Plan
The intent of ARP is to allocate money for several initiatives, including funds for local municipalities to bolster the economy and support not-for-profits in the local community that had been severely impacted during the COVID pandemic. Download a fact sheet on the 151 page regulation, which provides guidance about eligible uses of the funds.
The Township CAN spend these funds on:
- Response to COVID-19 emergency or negative economic impacts. This includes, but is not limited to, assistance for households, small businesses, non-profits (including volunteer fire companies whose fundraising may have taken a hit during COVID-19), and aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.
- Premium pay for essential workers. Can pay a bonus to workers. Up to $25K each. Could be paid in a lump sum as long as you don’t violate $13/hour rule. Public and private employees. “Essential workers only”. Backpay is most likely ok. Fire Company block grants, police - ok.
- Lost revenue replacement. The revenue deficit must be as a direct result of COVID-19, and could apply from 2020 through 2024. 2019 is used as the “base year” with which to compare revenues. Applies to tax revenue, liquid fuels, etc.
- Infrastructure investment. Drinking water, storm water, sewer, broadband hot spots, but you can’t spend it on roads and bridges. Roads and bridges may come in the fall.
- Can use for construction for larger meeting space or technology for remote meetings.
- If Township-owned parks were impacted due to COVID-19 (more use), you could use to repair/maintain them.
Final Rule Relaxes Reporting Requirements
On January 20, 2022, the PA State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) hosted a webinar to summarize the Treasury Department's final rule governing the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds by townships.
The final rule contains significant new flexibility by allowing townships to opt for a standard lost revenues allowance of $10 million to be used for general government purposes. Learn more about this.
What SHOULD The Money Be Used For?
I'm sure there will be a long line of requests for these funds and Newtown Supervisors will have to weigh all the options. Most importantly, in my opinion, are the opinions of township residents. Consequently, I started a survey in April, 2021, to gauge the opinions of residents. The following is a summary of results to date (September 10, 2021) based on 433 responses from Newtown Township residents (out of a total of 477 responses).
The summary of survey results, organized by rating (choices with the highest ratings at top) is shown in above chart. Another way of looking at the data is shown in chart below.