Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

The Select Board voted, 4-0, with John Hurd absent, on Wednesday, April 20, to adopt the revised ARPA framework proposed by Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine.

To see these revisions, click here >>  See all documents under this agenda item here >>

After the Select Board’s October 2021 endorsement of a framework, ARPA approved the final federal guidelines, “which allowed us to use up to $10 million to benefit the general fund in accounting for revenue loss that the town experienced over the course of the pandemic. We’ve since finalized the numbers in a lot of key areas,” said Chapdelaine. Specifically:

  • Revenue loss/general fund: Raised to the maximum amount of $10 million (previously $3 million), and is already contained in the town’s long-range investment plans. “To make that change, we had to significantly reduce proposed investments in other areas, such as water-and-sewer and affordable housing. It remains the largest areas of revenue loss,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Public health: $920, 069 (previously $511,000). “This is a somewhat significant increase because the plan is built out more robustly than before,” said Chapdelaine. 
  • Diversity, equity and outreach: $393,000 (previously $600,000).
  • Premium pay for town/school essential workers: $4,059,562 (previously $4 million), represents those with full vaccination status.
  • Premium pay for private-sector essential workers: $0 (previously $500,000). “At the initial discussion, I was concerned who we’d make payments to, and not sure how we’d administratively make such amounts,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Behavioral health support: $610,000 (previously $650,000).
  • Low-income broadband support: $0 (previously $269,000). “We wouldn’t have use for those funds in Arlington,” said Chapdelaine. 
  • Small business/nonprofit assistance: $1.5 million (no change). “The first round of checks has already gone out,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Chamber of Commerce support: $12,000 (new proposal).
  • Tenant assistance: $1 million (no change). “The program is underway, and we’ll get a better assessment of the program in a few weeks,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Providing food security: $832,500 (previously $1,075,000)—Food Link: $450,000, Arlington EATS: $232,000, food-security reserve: $150,000.
  • Investment in parks and open spaces: $2.5 million (previously $4 million). 
  • Water-and sewer-spending: $3,219,000 (previously $6.6 million). “This is a significant change, in order to get to the $10 million revenue loss,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Affordable housing for the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA): $2,654,000 (only slightly revised). AHA Capital, $2,505,000, will replace the windows at Menotomy Manor; AHA transportation, $35,000, will provide a van for appointments and grocery store visits; and AHA Resident Support Services, $114,000, will enable the hiring of a new employee, said Chapdelaine.
  • Remote/hybrid meeting infrastructure: $300,000 (new proposal). “We need to contemplate significant investments, not only in the Select Board chambers, but in other meeting rooms across town. This will go a long way in getting a number of rooms outfitted for the type of remote/hybrid meetings that we’d like to see going forward,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Administration, oversight and communications: $570,198 (previously $522,893). “I added the word ‘communications’ because of the outside auditors that we’ll need to pay each year for auditing our ARPA expenditures, and to be able to spend some of these resources on communicating and engaging with the public about these ARPA investments.
  • HVAC improvements: $2,250,000 (no change). “The exact use of funds is still being developed,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Affordable housing: $3 million (previously $4 million). “It’s now all for affordable-housing unit production, with nothing going to deepening the affordability of units in the pipeline,” said Chapdelaine.
  • Homelessness: $549,564 (revised total, $50,000 already endorsed by board vote in August).
Reconciliation period urged

If this money isn’t all spent by the end of 2024, Chapdelaine recommends a reconciliation period and allow town management and the board to decide where these funds should be allocated. Accounting firm Powers & Sullivan will do the audit, and town officials will “continuously engage” with Sandy Pooler, deputy town manager/finance director, and Ida Cody, comptroller, during the audit, said Chapdelaine.

Board member Steve DeCourcey said, “Anything that’s been spent has been checked with Powers & Sullivan. Water-and-sewer spending is reduced dramatically. Although there’s a great need for water and sewer, it’s difficult to find a lost revenue category. It was more of a placeholder earlier, and we now have a facility to use this lost revenue account.”

Board member Eric Helmuth noted he was glad to see that audits for health and diversity remain and are a priority. “Increases in public health are entirely appropriate given the origins of ARPA funding,” he said. “I respect that we have to make these reductions, even though it’s painful, especially for affordable-housing production, which never has enough funds.”

He added: “These are thoughtful priority changes that will benefit the town. I’m glad to see the proposed move for hybrid meeting infrastructure. I hope that the state Legislature allows the move to hybrid participation to enable expanded participation.”

Board Chair Len Diggins agreed that these changes are thoughtful. “Town Meeting members and staff share our values, and ultimately we all aim toward the same goal. We’ll wait until the state makes their decision on hybrid funding before allocating any funds.”

Watch the whole April 20 board meeting on ACMi:

April 20, 2022: 4-0 vote backs 5-year housing plan

This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Monday, May 2, 2022.