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City looks for feedback on how to use federal funds
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City looks for feedback on how to use federal funds

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The City of Council Bluffs is seeking feedback from the community on how they feel the city should spend the approximately $24.8 million the city’s receiving in federal Fiscal Recovery Funds.

The funds are appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) — passed by Congress in March — that provides resources as a response to the COVID-19 public health or economic crisis.

This is a one-time allocation fund that is to be used to improve the quality of life for Council Bluffs residents, provide for immediate recovery needs and create a long-term investment for the city’s future, the city said in its announcement about seeking feedback.

“We want to hear from our residents and business owners,” Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh said in a release. “This survey provides the community with a chance to express their opinions on how Council Bluffs should use our ARPA funds.”

An ARPA survey is available at councilbluffs-ia.gov/2463 and print copies are available at the Council Bluffs Public Library, 400 Willow Ave. The surveys must be completed by Oct. 29 to be accepted.

According to the release, it’s defined in Treasury’s Interim Final Rule that funds may be used:

To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.

To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID–19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers.

For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID–19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency.

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To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

According to the release, the following criteria are being used to determine priorities for the City of Council Bluffs:

Review of ARPA allowable uses.

Review of ARPA funds being directly allocated to other purposes, like housing and education.

Review of existing plans, surveys, and recommendations.

Consultation of boards, commissions, and the City Council.

Community outreach to establish citizen priorities.

The expenditure must meet federal guidelines and funds are not allowed to be used for rainy day funds, financial reserves or fees or issues of new debt or pensions.

“There are limits on capital construction unless related to the pandemic health or economic recovery response directly,” the release said. “Recipient governments are prohibited from directly or indirectly offsetting a reduction in net tax revenue resulting from a change in law, regulation or administrative interpretation during the covered period.”

More information can be found at councilbluffs-ia.gov/2463.

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