The federal government has awarded Carson City a total of $20.8 million in direct funding allocations through the American Rescue Plan, and the Board of Supervisors is open to suggestions on how to spend that money.
Mayor Lori Bagwell outlined ARP federal funding requirements at “Coffee and Conversation with the Mayor,” on Thursday. Carson City may use the money to respond to the pandemic and its negative impacts, provide bonus pay to essential workers, restore pandemic-caused cuts in public services, and/or invest in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
The city’s current outline for the funding includes investments in behavioral healthcare needs, nonprofits, Parks and Recreation, human health services, emergency response and dispatch centers, and water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
However, Bagwell said at the meeting, “This is just a preliminary that I’ve put together to start the conversation,” adding she and board members are open to input and feedback.
Meeting attendees provided several new suggestions, including funding toward a workforce development program and pickleball court construction and refurbishing. (Bagwell is a fan of the latter – it qualifies as “response to public health emergency or its negative economic impact” funding.)
Speaking for the Carson City Senior Center, Director Chris Gray advocated for more funding toward the city’s services for the elderly. He said that the center provided an average of 400 meals per day to seniors during the pandemic.
Bagwell encouraged meeting attendees with direct funding suggestions to have a “strong, evidence-based” solution to a community issue, and explain how it fits into the federal funding requirements.
The board will have its annual retreat (a strategic planning workshop) July 19. Sending ARP funding suggestions to the board before that date will ensure that they have ample time to discuss input during their workshop, Bagwell said.
The city is likely to finalize funding plans in late August or early September, though no firm deadline has been set yet. The board is able to withdraw half of the $20.8 million immediately, and the other half a year from now. They must obligate all the money by December 2024.
Ineligible funding categories include pension fund payments, city debt payments, rainy day funding, and offsetting tax cuts. The eligible categories also leave little room for infrastructure improvements besides water, sewer, and broadband, so it is highly unlikely that the board will allocate any funding toward street improvements.
Residents are invited to send suggestions and feedback regarding ARP funding to firstname.lastname@example.org.