CLARKSBURG, Va. (WV News) – Members of Clarksburg City Council will meet for a conference session Thursday evening, primarily to continue their discussions on how the city should use its share of American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The city has already received more than $ 3 million in ARPA funds, half of the estimated $ 6.43 million it is eligible for, according to Mayor James Marino.
Guidance documents from the US Department of the Treasury indicate that municipalities can use their share of funds to: Support public health spending, address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, replace lost revenue from the sector public, provide a premium for essential workers, and invest in water, sewage and broadband infrastructure.
According to information from the National League of Cities, ARPA funds must not be committed until December 31, 2024, and unspent funds cannot be recovered or returned until December 31, 2026.
Council members have identified more than $ 2 million in lost revenue that they believe will be eligible for reimbursement from ARPA, Marino said.
âWe found around $ 2.2 million, and that would be to go back to the general fund for lost revenue,â he said. “This is an area that we have talked about trying to recover, it is a few million dollars that we lost during COVID.”
ARPA funds represent a unique opportunity for the city, which city council members want to make the most of, Marino said.
“It’s just trying to make the right decisions for the city and the citizens,” he said. “It’s one-time money that we’ll probably never see again in our lives. That’s why we have work sessions after work sessions to try to make sure we are using it the right way.”
There were many suggestions on how the funds should be used, Marino said.
âWe are looking at each one closely and we are not jumping on board with something that we don’t think is sustainable and beneficial,â he said. “We would like to do things that will generate income in the city coffers and not just spend it and not be able to collect recurring profits from it.”
Deputy Mayor Lillie Junkins presented an idea based on a proven economic development strategy in Wytheville, Virginia.
âThey basically started a business incubator in their city,â Junkins said. “They held a local competition and people applied who had an interest in starting a business.”
According to information from the Brookings Institute, the Wytheville competition attracted 30 potential business owners.
The city narrowed the pool from 30 to eight finalists, who were matched with local business mentors and required to take entrepreneurship courses before presenting their business plans to a panel of judges. Four contest winners each received $ 75,000 to start their business.
âThey just focused on local entrepreneurship,â Junkins said. “We have a lot of people in our city with great business ideas, but they just don’t have the know-how or the financial capacity to do it.”
âIf it’s not something that we can use this money for (ARPA), it is definitely something that we want to put in place over the next two years with this Council,â she said.
The Clarksburg City Council Conference session on Thursday will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber of the Clarksburg City Building, located at 222 W. Main St.
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