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Lubbock City Council Begins Budgeting $56.6 Million ARPA Funds

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Rob Avila
/
Texas Tech Public Media
Lubbock City Council meeting on August 24th

The Lubbock City Council on Tuesday began outlining plans to budget the $56.6 million in federal funding allocated to the city as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The money is part of the $2 trillion package signed by President Joe Biden in March, designating public funding to address the national impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The act passed through congress by Democratic partisan vote, without support from members of the Republican House or Senate.

The U.S. Treasury department’s ARPA guidelines dictate what the $56.6 million can be spent on. The City's Chief Financial Officer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWlx7bs-srg?t=1162">Blu Kostelich noted, however, the terms are broad, leaving the specifics of dispersing recovery funds to local leaders.

“In the actual treasury guidelines, I can tell you it’s very loose," he said. "It’s really up to the city council and the city manager's discretion on what actually defines the hardest-hit communities."

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Screenshot taken from the City of Lubbock's August 24th city council meeting, presenting the designation of ARPA funds.

The city received the first half of the funding in June and already designated $8.1 million for a new public health facility on 50th Street and Avenue U. Another $5.9 million has been allocated for emergency service vehicles for the police and fire departments. Kostelich highlighted that some funds will be earmarked to address the current wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and other considerations such as the logistics of administering a third vaccine shot.

The city presented six broad areas of focus for the remaining funds: public safety preparedness, critical infrastructure, neighborhood recovery and revitalization, community support services, job training and economic development and funding for arts, non-profit and small business.

Specific funding consideration is still ongoing. The deadline to fully designate funding is the end of December 2024. The deadline to spend it is December 2026.

The meeting was the first "listening session" for citizens to give public comments on ARPA spending. Commenters included representatives from the arts community, low-income housing and other nonprofits. During the session, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWlx7bs-srg?t=1620">two citizens expressed concerns over the initial lack of opportunity for community input on how the funding will be spent. The city already allocated almost a quarter of the money before this public opportunity to present.

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