City of Lubbock funding projects through ARPA, considering additional funding

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 11:14 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The City of Lubbock is considering how to spend its remaining COVID-19 relief money from the federal government. The City was appropriated $56.5 million from the federal government in American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds.

City Manager Jarrett Atkinson says the City still needs to decide where $10 million of its funding will go, and plans to reallocate another $5 million. As far as the $40 million the City has already allocated, Atkinson says the money is headed to the right places.

“A $56.5 million infusion in, into our community. Again, we put dollars direct into the pockets of people that were affected. We provided job opportunities. We’re doing a tremendous amount of improvement to parks,” Atkinson said.

At the top of the city’s ARPA funding categories is $2.5 million for housing. Right now, there are two owner-occupied affordable housing projects underway in east Lubbock.

Another $2.5 million went to cybersecurity, which Atkinson says went to the City’s information technology department to ensure the City is up-to-date on cyber detection, response and firewalls.

About half a million dollars in ARPA funds went to small businesses, and less than a hundred thousand to non-profits. More money was allocated for the two groups, but Atkinson says previous rounds of COVID-19 relief meant there were not enough takers.

“We did set aside dollars for grants to the arts community. Those were 99.9 percent taken and spent, just in a very short period of time. My presumption - there hadn’t been prior programs to help those folks,” Atkinson said.

$4 million in federal funds was allocated to job training. So far, that has looked like scholarships for students wanting to enter the medical field, mentorships through El Robi (East Lubbock Resident-Owned Business Initiative), and the City’s own summer field apprenticeship program.

“Each week, they were within a different city department or city division, as it might be. All number one, to teach. But number two, to equip them for the job market. And most appropriately, to get them to go to work here, it looks like we’re going to get a number of them,” Atkinson said.

Lubbock was given $10 million for revenue loss or replacement, the council decided to send that to public safety.

“We had a number of public safety items teed up that would have been in future capital. I don’t think we could have gotten to them all in one year. This was an opportunity to do that and get those things on the way,” he said.

The City is spending more than $4.5 million on a new joint City-County health department, with more space and better suited to its purpose.

Along with the County, the City is putting up $3.5 million for the new Hope Center. It will be a diversion center where police, EMS and friends and family will be able to bring people experiencing a mental health crisis for a short-term hold. Atkinson says it is the perfect example of the long-term effects of ARPA in Lubbock.

“Often those folks end up really not in the right place. You either have to take them to the emergency department or the hospital, or unfortunately sometimes you have to take them to the county jail,” he said. “This is going to be, it’s better for the patient 100 percent. It helps law enforcement and EMS, and it keeps hospital resources free. It’s going to be a neat project.”

The largest ARPA allocation went to parks, at more than $14.5 million. Atkinson says that money is going to walking trails, playgrounds, three new splash pads and work on the Canyon Lakes.

Another $3.5 million was designated to fight homelessness, but the City has not hammered out a plan for that yet. Atkinson believes the City should reallocate about half a million of those funds.

There’s also money leftover from grants for small businesses and non-profits. Thursday night, KCBD Newschannel 11 will have a closer look into what Atkinson thinks that money should be used for instead.