ARPA Funding Priorities

The Town seeks your input on 3.9 million in funding priorities!

The Town of Bennington is expected to receive a total of 3.9 million dollars in federal funding for projects as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). How the Town uses the funds can be transformational for our community and the Town is seeking input from community members to best determine those uses.

At the January 10th Select Board meeting, a public presentation will be made outlining the process for determining funding priorities along with an overview of ARPA, eligible funding uses, and to answer any questions regarding the process. This first meeting on January 10 is to discuss the process only. The merits of individual projects and where they fall in the list of priorities for ARPA funding will be discussed at the following Select Board meeting on January 24.

An initial draft list of suggested priorities for economic development and Town infrastructure and operations has been created by the Town of Bennington Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee — a Select Board sub-committee and Town of Bennington, BCRC and BBC staff — with consultation by economic development consultants White and Burke and the Bennington Department of Health. These lists are broken down into “tiers” where the first tier of projects best aligns with a combination of available funds, including ARPA eligibility, time for project completion, a clear role for the Town, and the existence of necessary partners for moving forward. Subsequent tiers do not reflect any judgement on the merits of the projects themselves, but rather a lack of some or all of the aforementioned criteria. This draft list is available for review on the Town website at: https://benningtonvt.org/arpa-priorities/

Is there a lower tier project that you might know about that is farther along than the committee knows? Are there possible partners to move a project forward that the committee is unaware of? (For example: a tier two project is a Downtown Hardware Store. Do you know someone who formerly owned or ran a hardware store who dreams of opening a hardware store here? If the Town had a partner ready to move on a project, that could elevate it to a tier one project.) Are there feasible projects that were missed?

The Town is asking for your input on the priorities for using the ARPA funds. Public comment will be taken between January 10 and January 21 in preparation for the Select Board meeting on January 24th when the projects will be discussed. A public comment form is available on the town website at https://benningtonvt.org/arpa-priorities/ or you can mail comments or drop them off at the Town Office. The public will have the opportunity to make additional comments, if they choose, at the meeting on the 24th. The Select Board strongly urges the public to provide written comments in advance as written comments are by far the most effective and efficient way for the public to provide meaningful input.

It is important to note that the initial priority list will need to be flexible. Final ARPA guidelines may change, new ideas from the public may emerge, problems with initial priority projects may appear that make them no longer feasible. The result of this process is an initial list of priority projects to start working on and pursuing… not necessarily the final list. A vote on the initial list of priorities will be made after the discussion on January 24 so that Town staff can begin that work.