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Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis

Federal ARPA fund spending decisions vary town by town

The six Region One towns are in different stages of deciding what to do with federal funds stemming from the American Recovery Plan Act.

The totals of available funds are estimates from the state Office of Fiscal Analysis as of August 2021. The actual amounts received by the towns will almost certainly be slightly different.

The ARPA funds were aimed to help in the recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Salisbury

Salisbury ($1,053,636): Salisbury has allocated $2,477 for building and land office updates, $39,295 for a basement air handler, $79,244 for Town Hall technology software upgrades, $31,120 for a housing study for the Pope property, and $31,112 for a sewer pump station, for a total of $183,330.

The Board of Selectmen has handled the ARPA process throughout, reporting to the Board of Finance.

Falls Village

Falls Village ($308,189): The town has committed (but not necessarily spent) about $136,000 on a new septic system for 107 Main Street, the “Owl Pro” camera for online municipal meetings, engineering work on the Cobble Road bridge and culvert, a new heating system for the town garage, a new roof for the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society building, water system repairs at the D.M. Hunt Library, and an electric vehicle charging station.

Additional ARPA expenditures are on hold because of a disagreement between the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance over the latter’s role in deciding how to spend the federal money.

The town put out a survey about the use of ARPA funds, Some 67 people responded and their top three priorities were: Investments in water, sewer and/or broadband infrastructure; address negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers, households, and small businesses (including nonprofits); to support ongoing pandemic response efforts.

The selectmen held an information meeting on March 3 to discuss the use of ARPA funds.

Cornwall

Cornwall ($398,626): Cornwall has an ARPA committee with the authority to evaluate requests and disburse funds. To date the committee has approved $204,415 in 18 grants to organizations including the Cornwall Child Center, the Cornwall Historical Society, the Cornwall Library, the West Cornwall Library, The Little Guild, and the Cornwall Food and Fuel Fund.

Sharon

Sharon ($787,008): At meetings in May and June the Board of Selectmen announced ARPA funds for two individuals for a total of about $4,000; nonprofit organizations ($15,000 for the Housatonic Youth Service Bureau, $10,000 for the Greenwoods Counseling Center and $5,000 for the Housatonic Valley Association); $8,000 for the American Legion Post #126 for furnace replacement; $28,000 to The Edward wine bar for accrued back taxes, rent, payroll and insurance; and the Sharon Tavern received $15,000 for accrued tax bills, utilities and rent. Both businesses requested the funds to offset business costs associated with the pandemic lockdown.

Also: Deer Run Road was allocated $33,170 toward internet access for four homes and the 57 households along Silver Lake Shores Road received $38,000 for drainage and road maintenance, along with lost homeowners’ association fees.

Demonstrating loss of revenue, the Sharon United Methodist Church received funding to cover the pastor’s salary and benefits, along with utility bills and funding owed to their New York Conference.

Sharon Day Care accommodated 18 additional children during the pandemic, requiring renovations; and installed air purifiers to combat the virus. The selectmen allocated $10,000 to offset those costs.

The remainder of the first half of the ARPA funds will provide $90,000 for the purchase and installation of a new generator at Town Hall and the Sewer and Water Department will receive $90,000 for three new generators and repair of the existing generator.

Kent

Kent ($812,763): Kent set up a committee to make recommendations on ARPA fund expenditures, and on June 22, after receiving the committees report, the selectmen authorized immediate disbursement of $106,000: $80,000  to the Kent Volunteer Fire Department for an upgraded communications system, fitness room improvements, a new stair-chair and the purchase of automatic external defibrillators; and $26,000 for the Kent Board of Education to fund an after-school and summer education enrichment program.

North Canaan

North Canaan ($951,492): First Selectman Charlie Perotti was out of town, and Selectman Craig Whiting provided this update:

“We do have a committee, we had an informal meeting just to hand out the guidelines to everyone as to what the funds can be spent on and…the priorities such as first responders, essential PPE supplies, HVAC upgrades to the town hall as well as technology upgrades, but no funds have been officially designated at this time. We are going to meet again in July.”

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