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On Monday, December 6, the La Verne City Council held a study session to discuss the use of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address the community’s needs and priorities. The federal government allocated over $7.6 million to the City of La Verne through ARPA. The city received 50% of its total allocation ($3.8 million) at the end of its fiscal year in June 2021, and anticipates receiving the remaining balance by June 2022.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our community, and the city is committed to supporting our residents and businesses,” said Mayor Tim Hepburn. “We look forward to allocating these funds towards those in our community who were hit the hardest by the pandemic, and making some long-awaited improvements throughout our city.”
During the study session, the City discussed the four eligible categories of spending including: (1) providing COVID-19 mitigation, prevention and community assistance programs and services to assist with the various hardships individuals have been and are experiencing due to the pandemic, (2) contributing to increased or “premium” pay to eligible essential workers through grant programs, (3) supporting regular government services that may have been cut back on or paused due to revenue loss resulting from the pandemic, and (4) investing in critical infrastructure to support the city and its residents long term.
Based on the thorough assessment of community needs and priorities, the La Verne Council supported the recommendation to allocate $3.1 million to address the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 and serve the hardest hit communities and families. This includes a $1.8 million allocation to serve those in the community that are most vulnerable through housing rehabilitation ($500,000); homelessness, outreach and diversion programs ($300,000); and proactively supporting the health of La Verne’s youth through the improvements to bike paths, parks and sports fields ($1 million). Additionally, just over $1.1 million will support local businesses through business grants and loans and a partnership with the La Verne Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Development Center to provide businesses with tools and assistance. This will, in turn, help build a stronger local economy that provides local jobs to the community. Nearly $185,000 will also be used for various COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Since a clean and reliable water system is vital for all, the Council also supported allocating money to improve the City’s water infrastructure. This includes plant upgrades, waterline replacement projects and updating old water meters with newer and more reliable equipment. While the original proposal was $2 million for these improvements, the La Verne City Council asked staff to revisit this number and research additional revenue streams that could fund these projects. Additionally, Council directed staff to explore redirecting some of the ARPA funds to provide all city employees, including police and fire, with a stipend under the premium pay provision to compensate them for their dedication to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The remaining $2.5 million would be designated to supporting various government projects, programs and services that have all been impacted by revenue losses due to COVID-19. Eligible service areas include infrastructure, cybersecurity, health services, environmental remediation, school or educational services and the provision of public safety services. The City recommends using $1.5 million of this towards its 5-Year Capital Improvement Projects that would roll out a tree replacement program and upgrade and/or make repairs to several city facilities. The remaining $1 million would help address other department priorities including outfitting ambulance operators, obtaining fire forcible entry training props, Fire Station #3 upgrades, fire vehicle upfitting, HVAC upgrades, back-up IT equipment, Council Chamber audio system improvements and more.