COVID money grants American Rescue Plan funds generic

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – American Rescue Plan Act funding served as the impetus for an Allentown City Council special meeting held Wednesday night.

The City of Allentown received a total of $57 million in state and local fiscal recovery funds under the ARPA. Its first installment of the federal money last fall totaled $28,574,240. 

The remaining money will be spent on "immediate pandemic response needs" and to "begin building a strong and equitable recovery," according to a city spending plan.

The city presented a draft of procedures as to how it will dispense the funds. During the meeting, Chief Operating Officer Leonard Lightner discussed a "scoring criteria" the city will use.

Applicants will be considered on various aspects, including their need for the funds, recordkeeping, capacity to implement their agenda, a monitoring process of how the money is spent, and ultimately, whether their stated outcome for acquiring the funds was realized.

The city's scoring criteria is similar to how Allentown allocates Community Development Block Grant funds, Lightner said.

"We're trying to mirror our CDBG process," Lightner told council. "We're not creating anything new."

A total of four categories are eligible for ARPA assistance. The funds can be used to: replace lost public sector revenue; respond to public health and economic impacts of the pandemic; provide premium pay for essential workers; and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The city noted the federal government allowed cities such as Allentown to have "substantial flexibility" within those four categories.

Lightner added that Mayor Matt Tuerk's administration is committed to allocating roughly $15 million toward affordable housing.

"It's a need, and from an administration standpoint, it is something we will commit to," Lightner said.

Council tabled "any discussions on ARPA allocations" Wednesday night until the rules and procedures are approved by resolution. Allocations must be approved by ordinance. Public meeting dates on the ARPA spending plan were not established Wednesday night.

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