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Lubbock Leaders Hold Joint Meeting To Discuss Spending $116 million In ARPA Funds

Organizations presented ARPA funding requests to local leaders in a joint meeting Lubbock City Council and Lubbock County Commissioners on Thursday Nov 17
Rob Avila
Texas Tech Public Media
Organizations presented ARPA funding requests to local leaders in a joint meeting Lubbock City Council and Lubbock County Commissioners on Thursday Nov 17

Local leaders met on Wednesday in a joint work session between the Lubbock City Council and Lubbock County Commissioners to discuss spending nearly $116 million in federal funding they will receive over the next few years.

The funds are part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a$2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Joe Biden in March to address the national economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the $116 million total in ARPA funding, the City of Lubbock will receive nearly$56.6 million and Lubbock County will receive about$60.3 million.

While the city hasalready allocated $14 million to a new public health facility and emergency service vehicles for the police and fire department, most funding has not been earmarked.

Lubbock County’s latest tentative ARPA funding estimate left only around $1.8 million unassigned. But theestimate is broad and doesn’t specify who will receive funds, leaving room for adjustment.

This includes allocating $20 million for organizations classified as public health community support services and $7 million to improve the McMillan Dam at Buffalo Springs Lake, which has reportedly needed work for over a decade.

Wednesday was the first joint meeting between City Council and County Commissionerssince the 1990s.

“Our goal in the next couple of hours is to have a high-level discussion about what I think is a generational opportunity for our community, our county and our city,” Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said.

Five areas of focus for potential ARPA funding were presented:homelessness,public health,broadband availability to non-served or underserved areas,mental healthandapotential micro-grant program for small businesses.

Local organizations presented funding needs for four areas, including:

  • Forming a homeless care continuum to coordinate and prevent duplicate services between outreach programs
  • Creating a joint city and county public health district  
  • Expanding broadband access to areas in need 
  • Building a mental health diversion center 

Local leaders led the discussion on creating a new micro-grant initiative modeled afterthe program Lubbock established briefly last year to assist businesses affected by COVID-19.

Lubbock City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said the previous program created a successful framework for future projects, however, it suffered from a lack of funding.

“The challenge from the last one was not in getting the word out, it was having enough money,” he said.

Commissioners discussed possibly allocating $5 million from county ARPA funding for the potential micro-grant program. Mayor Popestated the council had not yet considered an amount.

City council and commissioners did not make a decision on funding during the meeting. Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said commissioners will look closer at the micro-grant program during the commissioners’ court meeting on Monday.

Officials have until the end of 2024 to decide how ARPA funds will be spent.

Rob Avila, J.D, is a reporter at Texas Tech Public Media. You can follow him on social media @Robavila_TTUPM.
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