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  • Springfield News-Leader

    Springfield is reallocating some pandemic relief funds. Here's where the money will go

    By Marta Mieze, Springfield News-Leader,

    2024-06-11
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2fl62R_0tnRFhTK00

    The clock is ticking for American Rescue Plan Act funds to be fully appropriated and spent. The city of Springfield, which was awarded more than $40.2 million, has to make sure all of those funds are allocated by the end of this year and fully spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

    With the deadlines approaching, the city's ARPA Review Committee on Friday looked at reallocating almost $700,000 in pandemic-relief funds to alternate projects. In addition to reallocations, the looming deadline worried council members about projects that had not yet moved forward.

    Most of the extra money came from $500,000 that was initially earmarked for a city-wide housing study that ended up being funded by other grants. Additionally, almost $200,000 was left over after making police, fire and health employee retention payments that were once-a-year payments for three years.

    Of the reallocated money, $100,000 will be used to pay for compliance services the city is using for the ARPA funds through Forvis Mazars (formerly BKD). However, the rest will be split up between various other projects. Here's what the committee agreed to fund:

    • HUD required five-year consolidated plan to support housing programs - $100,000;
    • HUD consolidated plan for fair housing - $50,000;
    • Corridor/neighborhood planning, to support consulting and design expenses for neighborhood and corridor projects identified in the Forward SGF Comprehensive Plan - $100,000;
    • Decontamination stations in Fire Stations 2, 3, 6, 9 that will provide firefighters space to decontaminate if something gets in their eyes or on the body - $66,000;
    • An aerial awareness drone on a 150-foot tether, to help the Springfield Fire Department improve situational awareness and observe large fires and big events - $55,819;
    • Commercial Street Community Improvement District budget requests, including signage, security cameras and dumpster pads and enclosures that the city requires - $50,000;
    • Additional neighborhood cleanups through the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, allowing the effort to continue and expand beyond the five cleanups covering 17 neighborhoods this year - $90,000.

    These reappropriations are not yet final as they will be presented to the full council for approval. The ARPA committee will meet again sometime in August to hear another status update on funded projects, figure out how to use the approximately $80,000 in remaining ARPA funds and assess any further reappropriations as the Dec. 31 obligation deadline approaches.

    The list of projects did not include any requests from the Springfield Police Department because all the requests are included in next year's budget. Some of the other projects presented to the committee but not selected for the extra funds were:

    • Within the Planning Department, a Historic Building Survey was recommended by the Plans and Policies Committee as part of their discussion on demolition by neglect. City staff noted these costs could be covered by grants as the scope of the survey continues to be explored;
    • The Fire Department had requested fire station alerting system for all stations, as well as a phase 6 live training prop, air and rehabilitation vehicle;
    • Public Works had sought additional funding for the new animal shelter and additional funds for Historic City Hall rehabilitation and upgrades (the project has already received over $4.5 million in ARPA money);
    • While not in the list officially, at Friday's meeting Springfield-Greene County Park Board staff noted projects in need of funding particularly at Dickerson Park Zoo, including the bear boardwalk that has been closed for about two years and work needed on the pond.

    Marta Mieze covers local government at the News-Leader. Have feedback, tips or story ideas? Contact her at mmieze@news-leader.com.

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