The city of Waco has about $8.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding left to spend by 2025 to keep the federal money granted to the city during the pandemic local.
ARPA was signed into law in March 2021, establishing funding for state and local governments and providing $350 billion to address fiscal effects suffered throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Finance Director Nick Sarpy said Tuesday in a presentation to the city council. Waco received $34.7 million in federal funds eligible for several authorized uses including government services; water, sewer and broadband infrastructure; natural disaster response; or community development.
The money must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and expended by the end of 2026 before leftover funding is returned to the federal government.
Sarpy said the city’s initial funding plan developed in October 2021 was developed out of residents’ and community feedback.
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Some $9.83 million so far has been allocated to replacing lost public sector revenue, $21.5 million to public health and economic impacts of COVID-19, $3 million to water and sewer infrastructure and $400,000 to broadband infrastructure. Sarpy said 40% of the funding is related to housing, 16% to public health expansion and support and 18% to the science, technology, engineering, arts and math center project at the Bledsoe-Miller Community Center, with various amounts going to different types of ARPA-eligible projects.
Sarpy said the city has spent or encumbered $14.4 million of its $34.7 million allocation so far, leaving about $20.3 million to be spent or committed. So far that $14.4 million has included:
$3 million for the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network’s Diversion Center
$2.53 million to the We All Win small business grant and loan program
about $2 million to housing affordability projects
$1 million for job training through McLennan Community College
$250,000 for Creative Waco’s artist support grant program
$2.5 million for Waco Family Medicine’s expansion.
Of the unspent $20.3 million, $7.3 million is related to projects in the pipeline, leaving only $8.1 million that is not spent, committed or assigned to a specific project, Sarpy said.
Housing Director Galen Price said some projects that could account for unspent money include home rehabilitation and down payment assistance in support of bigger projects. There is not a concern among city staff that federal funds would go unspent, he said.
Price said the city’s home rehabilitation assistance program is working through at least 10 applications for ARPA funding, but those funds will not appear as committed or spent until the applicants enter into an agreement.
“We are receiving applications in regards to that funding, and again we anticipate receiving more as we undertake some of these redevelopment projects in and around some of these targeted areas,” he said.
“We don’t want to leave a single dollar that the federal government has brought to the community on the table,” Mayor Dillon Meek said.
Economic development grants
In other business Tuesday, the city council approved up to $3 million in Tax Increment Financing Zone and sales tax abatement funding split between Terry Black’s BBQ and Opal’s Oyster Bar at Eighth Street and Mary Avenue, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and new construction at 1001 Columbus Ave.
City spokesperson Monica Sedelmeier and representatives from design agencies Versive and Loyalkaspar Inc. gave a presentation on new branding for Waco, which will continue to feature the “Flying W” symbol.