FY22 Council Priority Accomplishments: ARPA Funding

city of Asheville
Asheville, North Caroilna, USA downtown skyline at dawn.

As the City of Asheville works to prepare a proposed  fiscal year 2022-2023 budget, it’s a good time to pause, look back and assess the work and accomplishments towards the priorities of the past year. 

Council Identified Priorities for Fiscal Year 2021-2022

  • Utilization of ARPA Funding
  • Reimaging Public Safety
  • Reparations
  • Employee Compensation 

 

What is ARPA Funding and how does it benefit our community

The unexpected infusion of 26-million Dollars in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, federal funds designed to support local governments in responding to the economic and public health impacts of 2019,  provided the City with a challenge, but a great opportunity as well. The question:  how will funds be allocated to have the most impactful and successful results? As Kim Marmon-Saxe, ARPA project manager puts it, “we have a great opportunity to work in partnership with the community, to learn together and achieve a successful outcome.”

ARPA project manage

ARPA project manager Kim Marmon-Saxe

 

City Council, supported by staff, has the task of deciding how to best leverage the use of these ARPA funds to assist with COVID-19 recovery in the community.   ARPA funds are a one-time funding source and are separate from the standard ongoing city budget process.  

 

City staff has been working to ensure ARPA funds are used to the best outcomes

City staff started work receiving ARPA applications from the community during our open RFP process,  September 27 through November 15, 2021. Initial  application review began in December 2021.

Of the 80 applications, 71 were eligible to go forward. Then began the difficult process of narrowing in the field. Difficult, Marmon-Saxe says,  because of the overwhelming number of strong applications, each meeting not only recommended categories, but City Council and our community priorities as well. 

Meeting the FY22 Priority of utilizing ARPA funds meant narrowing down all the worthy applicants. To do that, City manager Debra Campbell requested guiding principles be developed to serve as a standard to measure the decisions and results against.

As adopted by City Council they area: 

  • Use an equity lens
  • Invest in resilience
  • Align with City strategic priorities
  • Focus on measurable impact
  • Leverage partnerships
  • Consider the long-term       

 

These principles were used to select a set of weighted categories. These are:

  • Affordable housing
  • Homelessness services
  • Small business recovery
  • Workforce development
  • Food systems
  • City infrastructure
  • Domestic violence prevention and assistance
  • Community communication      

A team of 27 staff volunteers from varying position levels and departments reviewed the applications using the same set of criteria questions across all applicants and rating them high, medium, low or none in meeting those standards.  “This is an unprecedented situation” Marmon-Saxe said, “ and I think we have been innovative and agile enough to find new ways to do things and get this money out to the community in a way that has not been done before.”

 

Next Steps 

In May, City Council will allocate ARPA funds.  The City will work as a partner, helping recipients navigate some of the federal rules, regulations and obligations that come along with ARPA funding.

An opportunity for the City and community to engage in an  impactful, positive relationship as described by  Marmon -Saxe; “That joining together of the community with the government and finding a way together to go forward, I think is the positive impact we could possibly have on the community and the city.”

 

ARPA project manager Kim Marmon-Saxe