American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding
Overview of ARPA Funds
The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Biden on March 11th 2021, included the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which were intended to provide financial aid to local governments. These funds are being distributed through the Secretary of the Treasury, which notes that funds are intended to accomplish the following objectives:
- Supporting urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control
- Replacing lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs
- Supporting immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses
- Addressing the systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the inequal impact of the pandemic
In their Interim Final Rule, which outlines potential eligible spending for these funds, the Treasury further outlines five broad categories for spending:
- Supporting public health expenditures, by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff
- Addressing negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector
- Providing premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors
- Investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet
- Replacing lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic
Local governments will receive the funds in two allocations. The first arrived in the Spring of 2021, and the second will be arriving in May 2022. Funding must be obligated by December 31st, 2024, and spent by December 31st, 2026
The Treasury has outlined the following as ineligible categories for this funding:
- Funding used to meet Federal Matching Requirements
- Premium Pay, unrelated to essential workers
- Pensions and Legal Settlements
- Infrastructure Not Directly Addressed in ARPA (e.g. paving roads)
- Rainy Day Funds, Financial Reserves, and Outstanding Debt
Fitchburg's Local ARPA Process
Fitchburg has received an ARPA allocation of $31,238,459. In the Fall of 2021, Mayor DiNatale will be working with City staff to develop a budget that will outline local priorities, and include an opportunity for nonprofits and public agencies to submit funding priorities through the Requests for Proposals (RFP) process.
Proposals will be reviewed by an ARPA Advisory Committee, designated by the Mayor to represent residents, businesses, and community stakeholders in the city, who will then make recommendations to the Mayor for spending. It is anticipated that the first ARPA budget will be submitted by the Mayor to the Fitchburg City Council in the first quarter of 2022.
Requests for Proposals (RFP)
The City of Fitchburg will be seeking proposals from public agencies and registered nonprofits for projects that meet the objectives of the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, and are aligned with the City of Fitchburg’s spending priorities. A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released, which will outline the proposal process.
The RFP can be found here: ARP RFP. Proposals are due Monday, November 15th by 11:59 PM EST.
Proposals MUST be completed online via the City of Fitchburg OpenGov portal at https://fitchburgma.viewpointcloud.com.
If you have questions or need assistance with your ARPA proposal, contact Patrick Hare, Chief of Staff to Mayor DiNatale.
ARPA RFP Webinar
ARPA Office Hours
The City of Fitchburg will conduct two “office hours” sessions for any applicants interested in getting feedback on their application. These will be held on Friday November 5th and Friday November 12th. Both will take place from 1-2pm. To request time to talk with City officials about your project, or for more information, contact Tom at email@example.com.
ARPA RFP: Frequently Asked Questions
- Who will review presentations?
Presentations will be reviewed by the City's ARPA Advisory Committee, a public/private/nonprofit group appointed by the Mayor. At these public meetings, applicants will have the opportunity to present their proposal and take questions from the committee. Following these meetings, the Advisory Committee will make recommendations to the Mayor, who ultimately submits the final budget to the Fitchburg City Council for approvals.
- Is there a minimum or maximum amount for organizations to target for funding?
The City did not establish a minimum or maximum for funding, but instead wanted to get a sense of community needs. The City encourages applicants to exercise their best judgement to submit ambitious but feasible applications that could reasonably be funded with these grant dollars.
- Does the City anticipate additional RFP rounds in the future?
Funds must be budgeted by 2024, and fully spent by 2026, and the City will be working deliberately to budget and spend spend these dollars. City officials anticipate additional RFP rounds in the future, but this is somewhat dependent on the proposals received in round one.
- Is there a requirement to show other sources of funding?
Ultimately, a project needs to show that it is fully funded and ready to proceed with ARPA funding. There is not a requirement for matching funds. That said, one of the RFP Criteria (link to it here) involves Return on Investment: proposals that do not leverage additional sources of funding will be scored lower than those that leverage additional funding sources to maximize impact.
- Can businesses respond to the RFP?
Businesses are not eligible to respond for the City’s RFP. The City of Fitchburg anticipates deploying business-directed resources through the Community Development and Planning Department, and other nonprofit partners may apply for additional business supports. When those resources become available, the City will work to market and distribute those resources to eligible businesses.
This is the criteria that the Advisory Committee and the City ARPA team will be using to evaluate ARPA project proposals. The most competitive proposals will score highly on the listed criteria. Some considerations for applicants to include in a competitive application are listed below:
- Qualified Census Tracts in Fitchburg: One of the criteria relates to projects that reach disproportionately impacted communities, defined by Treasury as qualified census tracts. This site highlights the 3 qualified census tracts in Fitchburg.
- City Strategic Planning: The criteria also highlights alignment with City Strategic Plans. This could include the City’s Master Plan—Vision 2020—the 2018 Economic Development Strategic Plan, or the Smart Growth America Next Steps Memo.
- Community Need: The criteria notes project alignment with community need. The Community Development and Planning Department’s Consolidated Plan and the 2018 Economic Trends Report are both good resources that utilized local data to identify community needs. Other quantitative or qualitative measures of community need will be considered, but these two resources may be good starting points for applicants.
Additional ARPA Resources
- Treasury Quick Reference Guide
- FAQs, developed by the US Treasury
- ARPA Local Aid Presentation: This Spring, the National League of Cities partnered with the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) to discuss the Treasury's guidance for this program. More details can be found here, including a recording of the presentation.
- How was the funding allocated? This document explains the allocation criteria the Federal Government utilized to distribute these funds to cities and towns across the United States.
- What additional supports are included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)? This presentation, by the National League of Cities, outlines the other supports offered through this legislation.
- Fitchburg, MA Census Tracts
- City Council Presentation
- ARPA Advisory Committee Members
What would you like to see ARPA spending focused on? Share your feedback with the City through its online portal.
You can also contact the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Patrick Hare: firstname.lastname@example.org