ARPA Committee recommends $3.6M revenue loss claim

Posted 4/5/22

Nugget Lake dredging project high on the list The Pierce County ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Ad Hoc Committee forwarded a recommendation to the Finance & Personnel Committee April 4 to …

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ARPA Committee recommends $3.6M revenue loss claim


Nugget Lake dredging project high on the list

The Pierce County ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Ad Hoc Committee forwarded a recommendation to the Finance & Personnel Committee April 4 to allocate $3.6 million in ARPA funds to replace revenue lost by the county in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. F& P met immediately following that meeting, and voted unanimously to recommend the appropriation to the full county board.

The Pierce County Board Ad-Hoc Committee’s purpose is to figure out how to appropriate the county’s $8.3 million in awarded ARPA funds The U.S. Department of the Treasury is responsible for the funds’ distribution. Four broad eligible uses for ARPA funds include: •Revenue replacement for government services

•COVID-19 expenditures or negative economic impacts from COVID-19, including assistance to small businesses, households, hard-hit industries and economic recovery.

•Premium pay for essential workers.

•Investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure The “final rule” from the U.S. Department of Treasury issued Jan. 6 significantly increased flexibility for municipalities in how they spend ARPA funds, especially in how they calculate the local tax revenue loss attributable to the pandemic.

Municipalities can use a standard allowance of up to $10 million for the revenue loss category, said County Administrator Jason Matthys. This replaces the previous revenue loss calculation formula. This provision could allow municipalities to claim all of their ARPA funds under the “revenue loss” category.

Finance Director Julie Brickner calculated the 2020 revenue loss to be $3,623,849, which auditing firm CliftonLarsonAllen confirmed. In reality, Matthys said, the county’s revenue loss for 2020 through 2024 would like exceed $15 million, meaning the county could appropriate all of its funds to the “revenue loss” category. However, Matthys doesn’t think that’s the route to go.

“I think it’s appropriate and necessary to at least claim the 2020 loss,” Matthys said. “But there are other community needs to consider.”

The money claimed under the revenue loss category can be used for “general government services,” which can mean any service traditionally provided by the government (minus a few exceptions). Some examples the final rule lists are construction of schools and hospitals, road building and maintenance, other infrastructure, health services, general government administration, staff and administrative facilities, environmental remediation, and provision of police, fire and other public safety services (can include buying fire and police vehicles.)

Matthys feels strongly that the Nugget Lake dredging project, which falls under environmental remediation project guidance, is a strong candidate for the revenue loss claim. The only other way to pay for this project would be to levy taxes or go to bond.

In 2007, 33,000 cubic feet of sediment was dredged from Nugget Lake. The new proposal calls for removing 100,000 cubic feet of sediment and building a sediment pond. The total cost is estimated to be between $1.2 and $1.4 million.

“In my opinion it’s absolutely necessary to have a park setting in that area,” Matthys said at the F& P meeting. “It’s brought increased revenues. The lake is the main reason people go there to recreate.”

Without the lake, the county might have to consider closing the park or repurposing it, Matthys added.

The full county board will vote on the resolution at its April 19 organizational meeting.

ARPA applications

Several more ARPA requests have filtered in from various organizations, county departments and citizen groups. Matthys shared briefly a list of the latest 13 requests to consider. Matthys said he hasn’t gone “deep into the weeds” as far as eligibility of the requests yet. Some may be difficult to characterize, he said.

1. Pierce County Jail – Purchase an intercept full body scanner at a cost of $244,000. This would allow jail staff to check for contraband in lieu of a strip search. The recommendation came from the last jail inspection.

2. Israel Haas, representing Coulee River Trails in Prescott/town of Oak Grove – Complete buildout of a seven-mile ADA accessible trail system in a regionally significant location at risk to being lost to development. The total price tag for the project is $3.8 million.

3. Town of Ellsworth – $220,000 for broadband expansion in the township along 450th, 410th and 710th. The town has appropriated $124,000 of its ARPA funds to this endeavor.

4. City of Prescott Well No. 3, which is no longer in use due to high nitrate levels. The city’s total ask would be $260,909.75 to be used toward this project. The city would pay the same amount, and also apply for a DNR Safe Drinking Water Loan at a 49% loan forgiveness rate.

5. Pierce County Public Health – Sustaining the communicable disease funding capacity after 2024. The salary and benefits for this position for two years would cost $192,940.87.

6. PCPH – Enhancement of the River Falls exam room at a cost of $10,000. They’ve been unsuccessful at finding funding from other sources.

7. Matthew Stepaniak of Limitless Cycling – Brings adaptive bikes to seniors, veterans, and the disabled in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties. He’s asking for $20,000 with supplemental funding coming from other sources.

8. Bethany Christensen of Fairyland Wonder Park in Prescott, an inclusive park dedicated to healing while becoming a regional destination. The project is estimated to cost $1.5 million total. The group has raised $181,999 so far and is requesting $25,323 to complete Phase 1.

9. Amy Berg of Turningpoint for Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence – A new shelter would cost $4.9 million. They are at capacity with 21 beds. They would not be asking for the full amount as the project is in its infancy stages, Matthys said.

10. Amy Berg of Turningpoint – Oct. 8 domestic violence walk with upfront costs of $12,000. It would be supplemented by registration fees and sponsorships.

11. Village of Plum City – New ambulance at a cost of $297,650. They have $100,000 saved, so they are requesting $197,650 in ARPA funds.

12. Village of Plum City – New vacuum sweeper/holder tractor for the village streets. They are asking for $40,000 out of $60,000.

13. Village of Plum City – New John Deere tractor for plowing. The request is for $102,789 out of $162,789.

Matthys pointed out that three requests – the jail’s and PCPH’s – may be considered government services, so it may be possible to find other funding aside from ARPA, or from the revenue loss category.

He and Emergency Services Director Christine McPherson are also proposing the committee consider using funds to build a tornado safe room at the Pierce County Fairgrounds. No such room exists, which is dangerous for people who camp there or 4-Hers who stay on the property during the fair, Matthys said.

In the past, a dispatcher would unlock the courthouse annex door facing Oak Street when the tornado siren would go off. Now that the dispatchers are located at 555 W. Overlook Drive, that’s no longer a feasible option.

The committee will continue to examine the ARPA guidelines and prioritize requests. The next meeting date is to be determined.