NLC’s annual Congressional Cities Conference (CCC) gave local leaders the opportunity to reflect on what two years of direct federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has done for their governments and residents. NLC’s new report, Unlocking Possibilities: How Cities Are Using ARPA’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds After Two Years, guided many conversations at the conference, with local leaders touting ARPA’s transformative nature in its national COVID-19 recovery effort.
Throughout the conference, local leaders celebrated the important role ARPA’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) played in supporting their communities not only in pandemic recovery but also in addressing historic inequities further exacerbated by the pandemic.
ARPA at CCC: Local Leaders Learned From and Networked With One Another
As the next SLFRF reporting deadline approaches, CCC allowed SLFRF recipients the opportunity to connect with and learn from their peers. Local leaders networked with one another throughout CCC programming, including in unique, ARPA-specific opportunities like Treasury-led focus groups and implementation workshops.
In these sessions, local leaders shared their implementation approaches with one another, such as various ways they engaged community members to determine their community’s needs and innovative ways to deploy funds. Additionally, they discussed successes and challenges around implementation of funds, which included developing regional partnerships in cross-organizational projects to maximize funding allocations across the county and state and better serve all residents.
An emphasis on flexibility led many cities to glean more insight into spending opportunities, especially highlighting the key expense categories outlined in NLC’s report and Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker, a joint project between NLC, Brookings Metro and the National Association of Counties (NACo). Local leaders shared the sentiment that SLFRF underscored the value of a strong federal and local partnership— CCC reinforced that transformative things can be done for residents of America’s cities, towns and villages when the federal government brings local voices to the table.
Celebrating Two Years of ARPA
ARPA and SLFRF gave local governments the boost they needed to respond to the pandemic. By providing funds to local governments of all sizes, residents across the country were provided opportunities to benefit from these funds and begin pandemic recovery equitably.
These direct benefits to residents took different forms and were supported by cities, towns and villages across the country, including funding opportunities as seen in:
- Cabool, MO, (pop. 1,981) where the city budgeted a portion of its $420,000 SLFRF dollars toward optimizing the city’s utility provision by expanding its current services to new and existing consumers. The initiative is projected to create 16 new jobs.
- New Britain, CT, (pop. 73,841) where the city budgeted $912,460 in SLFRF to the creation of a nursing annex at the New Britain Senior Center that will support COVID-19 response through vaccine distribution.
- Tacoma, WA, (pop. 219,205) where the city budgeted $5 million in SLFRF to acquire and convert an existing hotel into an emergency shelter for residents experiencing homelessness. The property will also offer permanent affordable housing for those at or below 60% Area Median Income (AMI).
To further support municipalities, their leaders and residents, NLC’s report found that ARPA and the SLFRF program:
April 30 Reporting Deadline Approaching for Small Local Governments
By April 30, all municipal grantees from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program will have to file a Project & Expenditure report with the U.S. Department of Treasury.
NLC produced a step-by-step guide and walk through video to help you file a report using Treasury’s portal. View the guide and video here.