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American Rescue Plan funds incoming for city

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The City of Marshalltown is expecting to receive $3.7 million in two American Rescue Plan payments. The Marshalltown City Council will determine how to best utilize the money. One possibility is using it for the innovative MPACT program between the Police Department and YSS.

The City of Marshalltown is expecting to receive its first installment of funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in the coming weeks. The Marshalltown City Council has been given an overview of how those funds can be used.

The American Rescue Plan is a federal act designed to facilitate the recovery of the country from the pandemic.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser presented the federal guidance on how American Rescue Plan funds can be used during a regular council meeting on Monday. The actual amount the city will receive is still unknown but it is estimated by the National League of Cities to be about $3.7 million divided between two payments.

The document providing guidance on how funds can be used is a 161-page “Interim Final Rule” which Kinser summarized for the council. She described it as the “terms and conditions” of the Rescue Plan funds.

“Those 161 pages give breakdowns of categories where spending can occur,” she said. “It’s been written for counties, tribal governments and cities all at once.”

The categories for eligible uses are:

• Premium Pay — for specific positions deemed “essential workers”

• Revenue Loss — compared to previous fiscal year

• Investments and Infrastructure — water, sewer and broadband

• Public Health and Economic Impacts — COVID-19 mitigation and prevention, medical expenses, behavioral health, public health and safety staff, address public health disparities

Kinser’s presentation included outlining how the funds could be used toward several projects the city is already doing or considering. Two of them are infrastructure projects — a stormwater basin for Edgewood; and water and sewer line replacement for State Street.

“There’s definitely some ways we can use it and replace some of the revenue in the general fund,” she said. “The big capital projects like the Edgewood stormwater project — just because if we can’t handle stormwater we don’t have a project there. Really other than that it’s whether or not to focus on the State Street renovation with water and sewer.”

The most innovative project the city has supported this year is the combined effort between the police department and YSS, creating the Marshalltown Police and Community Team. A challenge facing this new team is securing funding to continue operating beyond this fiscal year. Kinser said there is funding to keep it going into next summer but the Rescue Plan dollars could secure the program even longer into the future. The council previously dedicated $150,000 in Cares Act funds toward launching and operating MPACT.

“It fits within these funds. How do you say no,” Kinser said. “This funding and how long it can be used really would take things through Dec. 31, 2024. It’s a big commitment to the community.”

MPACT has received overwhelmingly positive feedback in its first few months since launch. Council member Mike Ladehoff voiced support toward using Rescue Plan funds to keep the program going.

The American Rescue Plan will probably make another appearance on the next council agenda but decisions on its uses are likely to occur during a longer period of time, according to Kinser.

“I’m excited to see the potential of these dollars to provide a direct impact for citizens,” she said. “I would like to see what the low-to-moderate income housing tax credit is and what low-to-moderate income housing projects look like in the next three to four years. LMI housing, we know we need to make a program. Now we can make it three years sooner than what we were talking about.”

The American Rescue Plan was passed in early March and signed by President Joe Biden on March 11. Funds will first be dispersed to the state before being distributed to cities like Marshalltown. The first payment should come within the next month and the second payment is slated for May 2022.

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Contact Joe Fisher at

jfisher@timesrepublican.com.

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