Westfield council identifies projects for $4.9 million in ARPA funds

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Westfield City Council member Cindy Spoljaric outlined a template for how the city plans to use the $4.9 million it received in its first allotment of American Recue Plan Act funds during the council’s Nov. 22 meeting. Another $4.9 million will be received next year.

Spoljaric said the council’s ARPA committee has created a funding plan for the dollars. The committee plans to collect more information from the public during an ARPA informational outreach meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Westfield City Hall, 130 Penn St.

Of the $4.9 million, 45 percent will be used to reverse negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as providing assistance to nonprofits, businesses and affected individuals. Forty percent will be used for infrastructure projects. Five percent will be used as premium pay for employees who were on the frontlines during the pandemic, such as public safety members. Ten percent will be designated for auditing and legal services.

Spoljaric said ARPA funds designated for infrastructure are very restricted, and the city doesn’t haven’t many local projects for the dollars. However, legislation being discussed in Congress could loosen restrictions.

“There are debates going on in Congress around the restrictions on the use of those funds,” council member Scott Willis said. “Right now, it is very, very tight and there’s nothing on our current radar screen of immediate importance and something we can use that money for. (The legislation) could give us a lot of flexibility to use it for just about any kind of infrastructure project we want.”

Willis said although the council wants to prioritize premium pay for public safety workers associated with the health risks of working during the pandemic, more premium pay money is available for other employees.

“Our public works employees were not working from home. They were patching holes and plowing snow and they were out there,” Mayor Andy Cook said. “Same thing when we made a decision to keep our building inspectors active during the whole time in order to keep the construction industry working. We did have other employees out there, and I hope you’ll take a look at those.”

The council unanimously approved the funding template. For more, visit westfield.in.gov.


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