The American Rescue Plan Act provides opportunities for communities to obtain funding to help reverse the devastating economic effects of COVID.

 

While the bill provides assistance for many different avenues for local governments to firm up and bolster their workforce training, education, broadband, and small business support; the act also provides the opportunity to invest in water-related infrastructure projects. These projects can include constructing publicly owned treatment infrastructure, managing and treating stormwater or subsurface drainage water, facilitating water reuse, and securing publicly owned treatment works. Certain ARPA funds can also be used for drinking and clean water-related infrastructure projects that are not necessarily associated with COVID.

 

How Can Funds be Allocated to Infrastructure: 

Many cities across the nation are receiving large quantities of funding from the US Government, but not all know exactly how to utilize this resource.  As published by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), and US Congress, the following represents a fraction of engineering projects that can be completed with ARPA funds:

  • Clean-up of wastewater holding ponds
  • Private/public partnership with internet service provider, county, school system, and healthcare for comprehensive broadband connectivity
  • Replacement of asbestos and lead water distribution lines
  • Replacement of utility meter system with AMI system for consumption management and cost control
  • Replacement of water meters and handheld readers
  • Replacement of water pumps at treatment facilities
  • Revenue replacement (including for projects related to parks, sidewalks, etc.)
  • Sewer facility upgrades
  • Solid waste disposal related to PPE

 

In addition to larger metropolitan areas, the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund will provide $19.53 billion to support tens of thousands of non-entitlement units of local government, which are local governments typically serving a population under 50,000.

 

Timing is Everything:

The timing of these funds is already upon us: Local fiscal recovery funds will be paid to local governments with the first 50% available now, and the second 50% to be delivered 12 months later. Initially, this timeline seems generous, but take into account the amount of time a local government needs to identify an infrastructure issue, run it through its approval process, then prepare for engineering and/or construction bidding; and the timing doesn’t seem overly generous.

 

Additionally, any funds not obligated by December 31, 2024 or expended by December 31, 2026 will need to be returned. It would be a difficult explanation for any municipality to its citizens on why improvement funds went unused.

 

Fund Distribution in the State of Georgia:

“More than $17.4B in ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Funds are allocated for the State of Georgia.”
– Georgia Governor’s Office for Planning & Budgeting

 

According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget (OPB), the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds may be used to invest in necessary improvements to water and sewer infrastructure. Currently 23 Metropolitan Areas have been identified to receive a share of the $17.4B in funds allocated for Georgia.

Municipality ARPA Funding
Atlanta  $170.93M
Savannah $55.59M
Macon-Bibb County $46.12M
Columbus | Muscogee Cty. $40.46M
Athens – Clarke County $32.63M
Albany $20.04M
Valdosta $16.25M
Warner Robins $15.02M
Sandy Springs $13.87M
Gainesville $11.71M
Rome $11.55M
Roswell $11.37M
South Fulton $11.35M
Marietta $11.18M
Stonecrest $9.73M
Brunswick $9.21M
Dalton $8.88M
Brookhaven $8.48M
Smyrna $7.99M
Johns Creek $7.07M
Alpharetta $6.64M
Hinesville $6.57M

Non-entitlement Units of Local Governments (NEUs) are the remaining municipalities (generally all cities under 50,000 in population). NEU’s have to apply to the US Treasury for assistance which may not exceed 75% of their most recent budget.

 

How Can a Georgia Municipality Apply for Funds?

The grant application process will require a proposal narrative for Water/Sewer Infrastructure, Broadband Infrastructure, and Negative Economic Impact projects. Visit the Georgia Governor’s office for Planning & Budgeting website at www.opb.georgia.gov.

 

The application period for the State of Georgia Fiscal Recovery Funds will be August 1-August 31, 2021. Applicants can apply via the Georgia Grants Portal.

 

For Non Entitlement Units of Local Government (NEU’s) there is more application information found on the US Treasury website:  Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for Non-entitlement Units of Local Government | U.S. Department of the Treasury

 

Fund Distribution in the State of South Carolina:

“Accountability on every nickel we spend, every penny no matter where it comes from, is to be a top priority. This is a lot of money. We don’t want to waste it, for sure. We don’t want to misspend it.”

-Henry McMaster – Governor, South Carolina

 

Overall, $8.8 billion is expected to come into the state of South Carolina through ARPA, but the majority of that funding will be sent directly to local and county governments and specific state agencies. As per the Post and Courier Newspaper | National League of Cities, local South Carolina metropolitan areas are directly receiving the following funds:

Municipality ARPA Funding
North Charleston $43.09M
Mouth Pleasant $34.24M
Columbia $25.93M
Charleston $20.71M
Greenville $19.66M
Spartanburg $16.92M
Goose Creek $16.31M
Anderson $15.75M
Rock Hill $13.24M
Myrtle Beach $12.96M
Greer $12.46M
Mauldin $9.49M
Simpsonville $9.05M
Fountain Inn $3.90M
Travelers Rest $2.00M

In addition to the local funding, South Carolina officials are determining how to best use the remaining funds. In an article released by The Center Square | South Carolina, some ideas being considered are:

  • $600 million in broadband and fiber improvements
  • $350 million to complete projects at the Port of Charleston and at inland ports to allow for an estimated 175,000 to 250,000 truckloads of imports to move from ships to the railways
  • $36 million to continue the state’s workforce training program, aimed at getting those unemployed back into the workforce
  • $10 million on a dashboard that would allow anyone to access data on how students at a school are faring throughout a year
  • $50 million nonprofit relief program and a program to add funds to emergency disaster farm aid and matching infrastructure grants to allow companies to build facilities to produce more products from the raw materials grown in the state
  • $15 million for beach re-nourishment with the funds

 

How Can a South Carolina Municipality Apply for Funds?

 

Additional ARPA Resources:

With such a large law literally sweeping the nation, there are many different resources to review and gather data from. Listed below are a few of the resource we have reviewed:

 

Nationwide Information:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury website has the latest information regarding the broad-based usage of the ARPA funding across the nation. There is also valuable information for non-entitled Units of Local Governments (NEU’s) to apply for funding.

 

To read the entire bill as signed into law, Congress.gov website has the official H.R.1319 – American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 available.

 

Municipalities – Specific Information: 

The National League of Cities (NLC) website offers a robust section of searchable documents relevant to municipalities and local leaders in this historic legislation including:

  • Local Recovery: Five Principles for ARPA Implementation
  • ARPA Local Relief Frequently Asked Questions
  • How to Spend Coronavirus State & Local Recovery Funds
  • How to Use ARPA to Access Coronavirus State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds
  • How to Meet Reporting Requirements for Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds
  • How States Can Allocate Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds to Local Governments
  • How to Use Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds to Ease Budget Shortfalls

 

Your Keck + Wood Team of Experts

Such an influx of funds to municipalities means work in progress, or projects recently put on hold due to the pandemic, can now begin. However, for many governments there is an issue of how to properly utilize the funds.

 

For specific insight on utilizing the ARPA funding for water and wastewater improvements, Keck + Wood can help. We can work with you to identify potential uses through facility assessments, plant optimization studies, and other planning methodologies to help prioritize the best use of the funding to serve your constituents. To learn more about how we can assist in the best use of ARPA infrastructure related funds, please contact:

 

Mike Moffitt, PE | Senior Vice President – Utilities  

678.417.4030 | mmoffitt@keckwood.com

Jolene Northrop, PE | Associate Vice President – Utilities

770.547.6462 | jnorthrop@keckwood.com

 

Using this Information:

At Keck + Wood, we continually strive to provide accurate and timely information. However, with ARPA information being generated and shared by many different sources almost daily, we cannot be held liable for the accuracy of this information.

You can download our Navigating the American Rescue Plan Act 2021 PDF for further reading.