What is the ARPA?
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) into law. The $1.9 trillion bill provides additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on, among other things, state, and local governments. With aid for initiatives far outreaching the mere provision of vaccines, ARPA provides $65.1 billion in direct aid to counties, and an additional 1.5 billion for public land counties. The allocation of the $65.1 billion includes $45.57 billion to metropolitan (entitlement) municipalities with populations over 50,000 or the central city of a metropolitan area, with the remainder distributed to non-metropolitan municipalities. (Find out more about Dept. of Treasury eligibility and your community’s allocation.)
How can funds be used?
In addition to funding initiatives such as to support public health expenditures and offering premium pay for essential workers, Treasury Department guidelines provide for investments in water, sewer, and broadband projects to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and expand access to broadband internet. The funds must be obligated for projects no later than December 31, 2024, and used by December 31, 2026.
What you Need to Know: Water and Sewer Projects
- Eligible Water/Sewer Projects align broadly with funding guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) or Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).
- Recipients may not use funds as a non-federal match for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) or Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) due to prohibitions in utilizing federal funds as a state match in the authorizing statutes and CWSRF and DWSRF.
- The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) does not apply to eligible infrastructure projects, however projects supported with payments from the Funds may still be subject to NEPA review if they are also funded by other federal financial assistance programs.
What you Need to Know: Broadband Infrastructure
- Eligible broadband projects must reliably deliver minimum speeds of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload. In cases where it is impracticable, projects must reliably deliver at least 100 Mbps download/20 Mbps upload, scalable to 100 Mbps download/100 Mbps upload speed.
- Broadband must serve unserved or underserved households and businesses not currently served by a wireline connection that reliably delivers at least 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload speed.
- Recipients may use funds for cybersecurity and digital literacy training, including cybersecurity modernization hardware, software, and means for protection of critical infrastructure.
Clark Dietz is your trusted resource.
ARPA funding is critical for communities as they continue to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 public health emergency. Clark Dietz is your partner in determining how to make the most of this opportunity, and how we can aid in getting your small, medium and large projects funded under ARPA. How we can help:
Reviewing the guidance.
Using the Treasury Department guidelines, Clark Dietz can assist municipal leader in determining the eligible uses of ARPA funding for infrastructure needs.
Exploring the possibilities.
Investigating needs and asking questions about goals will help ensure all the important issues are addressed before plans are put into action or funding is depleted.
Engaging with stakeholders and the public.
Our engineers are skilled in working with stakeholders and providing opportunities for public engagement.
Clark Dietz has a strong track record ensuring project records are compliant so municipalities avoid necessity of repaying funds that have already been spent.
With a deadline of December 31, 2024 to obligate project funds, we can aid in developing a thorough plan to determine the best use of funds.
Additional Guidance for Illinois
The State of Illinois recently released new procedural details on how to claim the federal funds allocated to your municipality from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was passed by Congress earlier this spring. As you may be aware, the federal government is sending funds directly to the larger municipalities and counties around the nation, but for those municipalities with a population under 50,000, funds are first sent to the state to be distributed. ARPA labeled these smaller communities as “non entitlement units” (NEUs), and the State of Illinois, via the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has established an “NEU portal” to help you with this task. In all, over $742 million of federal ARPA funds are available for NEUs in the State of Illinois.
The Governor’s office has set the first important deadline for September 30, 2021. If your municipality has not made efforts to send information in response to the State’s communications, you will risk forfeiture of your allotment, and those funds will likely be reassigned to other NEUs.
The following are a few important key points and resources:
Eligible/Ineligible Expenditures: ARPA funds generally have less restrictions than the Local CURE program funds which were available last summer (2020), but still must adhere to guidelines of eligible and ineligible expenditures.
Clark Dietz is your trusted resource for ARPA-eligible planning investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure projects.
Let’s get started.
To find out more about ARPA and how to translate your short-term stimulus into long-term positive impacts, contact one of our experts:
Champaign, IL: Michael Livermore
Indianapolis, IN: Scott Wood