By Charlie Davis
Douglas City Manager
I hope this article finds you well and safe during this trying time of COVID. I wanted to take a moment to explain the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was recently signed into law. Hopefully after you read this, you will have a better insight into ARPA.
What is ARPA? On March 11, President Biden signed into law the legislative pandemic relief bill called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. ARPA is a $1.9 trillion economic relief stimulus package. This legislative bill allows for aid to American states, counties, cities, tribes, and territory in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts “on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.” The law allocated nearly $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes, and territories. Specifically, the bill allocated $5 billion to Georgia state government and $3.5 billion to local governments in the state. More than $2 billion in relief was allocated to Georgia counties with more than $1.4 billion allocated to Georgia cities.
The ARPA bill is in the Interim Final Rule status with the Final Rules to be released (hopefully) by the end of September 2021. Local governments have until 2024 to have projects committed and until December 31, 2026 to have expenditure of the funds completed.
There has been some misinformation being circulated concerning the expenditures of this money. There are four main categories with approximately 65 sub-categories to spend the money within. The categories are:
- 1. To respond to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.
- 2. Premium Pay for workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency or through providing grants to eligible employers with essential workers.
- 3. For the provision of government services on revenue loss due to COVID-19 in most recent full fiscal year.
- 4. To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband.
There has also been misinformation concerning President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13950 and President Biden’s Executive Order 13985 and their impact on the legislative ARPA bill. In short, executive orders have no effect on legislative bills. Congress passes bills and appropriates monies. President Biden’s EO 13985 (Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government) revoked President Trump’s administration’s EO 13950 (Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping). EO 13950 prohibited federal contractors, federal agencies, those receiving federal funds and members of the United States Uniformed Services from promoting so-called “divisive concepts” in employee diversity trainings. President Biden’s EO 13985 directed all executive departments to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all. As stated earlier, no executive orders have an effect on the ARPA legislative bill.
The ARPA rules, compliance and reporting standards are strict and the adherence to and accountability could affect any future federal and state grants. Some of the government materials governing ARPA are:
- US Treasury – State & Local Compliance & Reporting Guidance
- US Treasury – Treasury’s Portal for Recipient Reporting
- US Treasury – Compliance & Reporting Guidance
- US Treasury- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- US Treasury – ARPA – Local Recovery Funds – Interim Final Rules Below is a general timeframe for the ARPA process.
Obliviously, the timetable ultimately depends on the US Treasury, and then Mayor and Council:
- September 30, 2021 – Final Rules Issued
- October 2021 – Review Final Rules and Attend Training
- November 2021 – Public Meeting and Develop Plans
- December 2021 – 1st Project begin implementation
Hopefully, this information will help you to understand the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).