The Day – Groton Seeks Comments on How to Use American Rescue Plan Act Funds

Groton – Should the city allocate federal coronavirus relief funds – and how much – to things like high-speed broadband, eviction assistance, an indoor water facility, child care children and small business grants?

These are some of the questions being asked as residents grapple with how the city should use its $8.6 million in coronavirus pandemic relief assistance from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The city has a “Budget simulator” tool on the Grand Groton site, www.grandgroton.com, in which people can specify how much they think should be allocated to the proposed categories, said Kevin Fitzgerald, ARPA coordinator for the city, which raises awareness of the tool. These categories include contingency funds, housing, infrastructure improvements, community programs, economic development, public buildings, quality of life and essential services.

“The budget simulator offers spending categories with drop-down arrows to provide details on potential allocations for infrastructure investments, economic stimulus initiatives, and quality of life improvements,” Fitzgerald wrote via email. mail. “Budget Simulator users are encouraged to increase and decrease listed allocations and share their ideas for using ARPA funds to support Groton’s long-term pandemic recovery.”

Residents can increase or decrease the amount they think the city should spend on potential items including eviction assistance, public housing repairs, housing rehabilitation, high-speed broadband internet service strip, green sidewalks and bike lanes, green infrastructure and weir repairs, sewers, social services, childcare services, purchase and redevelopment of vacant properties, grants for commercial infrastructure, small business grants, municipal building upgrades, library upgrades, parks and outdoor recreation facilities, fire and security facilities, life safety attendant bonus, expanded health care capacity and public transportation.

The budget simulator asks people if the city should hold 20% of available funding for emergency funds, if the city should build an indoor aquatic facility with a heated therapy pool, and if the city should allocate 1% of its funds to arts and culture, as requested by the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition.

People can also add comments.

According to Fitzgerald, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has established rules on what municipalities can spend ARPA funds, including COVID-19 adaptation, business relief, child and welfare services. family, housing and hunger, infrastructure improvement and modernization and technology.

Residents weighed in at two town hall meetings last fall on how they think the city should use its funds.

“This first public call for submissions received 246 responses from in-person and online submissions,” Fitzgerald said. “City of Groton departments also offered early proposals and ideas for needs that could be met with stimulus funds. 55 project ideas were collected through a public meeting, email and GreaterGroton.com with requests estimated at $32 million. Projects were then weighted based on public votes and filtered to omit proposals that are ineligible for ARPA funding.

The most popular and eligible project ideas were then included in the budget simulator, he said. Overall, the proposed project ideas total $13.6 million — more than the city has ARPA money to fund — so people start with a deficit in the budget simulator.

Fitzgerald described it as “a valuable method for gathering public input because it places respondents in a deliberative decision-making role to consider potential uses as alternatives and indicators of residents’ priorities as Groton recovers from the pandemic.”

Fitzgerald said the city is trying to get as much feedback as possible this month. He said he meets with residents daily at events and shares the budget calculator “on every platform to promote this opportunity for people to add their 2 cents to this $8.6 million investment in the community. of Groton”.

“We are trying to gather as much data as possible in March to inform our needs assessment for Groton’s long-term recovery committee,” he said. The committee “will use public input and the priorities presented in the needs assessment to submit an ARPA spending plan to Groton City Council.”

The budget simulator is available at bit.ly/gtbudgetsim.

Those with questions or wanting more information can contact Fitzgerald at [email protected] or (860) 446-5983.

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