City of Lubbock working to allocate remaining covid relief from federal government
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The City of Lubbock has about a year and a half to find a home for $15 million in COVID-19 relief from the federal government. The City has already allocated or spent about $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funding.
The City still has about $10 million it needs to allocate. On top of that, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson believes another $5 million should be moved from their current categories, to new ones.
“I think if we’re not seeing some real pegged out uses by January of 2024, we’re going to need to revisit what to do with those dollars,” Atkinson said.
This week, Atkinson reminded Lubbock’s City Council about its upcoming deadline, December 2024, to allocate ARPA funds.
$2 million was originally set aside for broadband, but Atkinson says other federal and state government programs will foot that bill.
“Our ARPA dollars going to that is duplicative, and I think you’re paying for something that’s going to get done anyway,” Atkinson said.
More than $2.8 million is up for grabs, leftover from grants for small businesses and non-profits. Atkinson says thanks to previous rounds of pandemic relief, there were not enough takers.
The City originally set aside $3.5 million to fight homelessness, but Atkinson thinks $3 million will be sufficient. He says several organizations around town are working on a plan to bring to the City on how to use the money.
“There’s discussion of everything from transitional housing to alliances between the various service providers. I think one of them will come through. I really do, I hope it does,” Atkinson said.
That leaves about $15 million in total up for grabs. Atkinson wants another $1.6 million of that to go into job training for critical fields.
“Think of a journeyman or a master plumber, journeyman or master electrician, HVAC,” Atkinson said. “Those types of things we have dollars set aside, when we find the right way to help the businesses, to have the appropriate candidate and move him into that.”
He is proposing another $400,000 go to Parks for the playground program. Atkinson believes nearly $9.5 million should go to utility projects.
“Those are all capital. There’s two of them in the water capital for the new year and the remainder are all in the wastewater capital,” Atkinson said. “They’re not projects that we wouldn’t have otherwise done. We would have done them, but this means that that nearly nine and a half million dollars of projects does not all have to come out of our ratepayers.”
The city manager wants to save half a million dollars for contingency.
“Prices are changing, costs are changing. I don’t want us to get 97-98 percent done with one of these projects and just need a little bit more to finish,” Atkinson said.
The City has until Dec. 2024 to commit these funds.
Atkinson says if by this coming January there aren’t some planned out uses for the money for job training and to fight homelessness, the City may need to reconsider those areas.
The City then has until the end of 2026 to spend ARPA dollars.
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