ARPA Priorities

Town of Bennington ARPA Funding

Bennington will receive a total of 3.9 million dollars in federal funding for projects as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). How we use the funds can be transformational for our community.

The town has created this page to inform the public about the process we are undertaking to determine our funding priorities, information about ARPA  funding restrictions, suggested priorities for funding, and how citizens had the opportunity to comment on those suggestions and to make their own.

On This Page:


ARPA FUNDED PROJECT LIST

 

As proposals for projects to be paid using ARPA funding are approved by the Select Board, we will list them here.

PROJECT: County St / Benmont Ave Sewer Design
ARPA FUNDING AMOUNT: $60,000
DATE OF SELECT BOARD APPROVAL: January 24, 2022

PROJECT: South St / Union St Stormwater Study
ARPA FUNDING AMOUNT: $22,000
DATE OF SELECT BOARD APPROVAL: January 24, 2022

PROJECT: White and Burke Study – COMPLETED
ARPA FUNDING AMOUNT: $15,000
DATE OF SELECT BOARD APPROVAL: January 24, 2022

PROJECT: Digitization of Town Records – COMPLETED
ARPA FUNDING AMOUNT: $165,000
DATE OF SELECT BOARD APPROVAL: February 14, 2022

PROJECT: Willow Park Playground Renewal
ARPA FUNDING AMOUNT: $500,000
DATE OF SELECT BOARD APPROVAL: March 14, 2022

PROJECT: Hazard Pay and Added Benefits for Town Workers – COMPLETED
ARPA FUNDING AMOUNT: $174,710
DATE OF SELECT BOARD APPROVAL: March 14, 2022

PROJECT: Benn-Hi Redevelopment and Skate Park
ARPA FUNDING AMOUNT: $2,960,000 projected costs – final numbers pending
DATE OF SELECT BOARD APPROVAL: March 28, 2022

 


Process for Determining Funding Priorities

The town developed an initial list of priority projects, including economic development and town infrastructure and operations projects. Given the availability of ARPA funding, the town has focused on ARPA eligible projects. Input from our community members was sought and included to best determine those uses.

January 10, 2022 – Select Board Meeting on Process and Eligibility
A public presentation was made outlining the process for determining funding priorities along with an overview of ARPA, eligible funding uses, and answered questions regarding the process.

January 11 – January 21 – Review of Documents and Input from the Community
The public was directed to this web page to review the suggested priorities, to make comments, and to suggest their own priorities. Public comments were due by 3 pm, Friday, January 21, and were compiled and shared with the Select Board at their meeting on January 24.

January 24 – Select Board Meeting to Discuss Projects and Vote on Priority List
The Select Board  discussed the projects list and public comments from the community which ended on January 21. A vote by the select board to continue work on the initial list of priorities was made and staff was asked to recompile the ARPA list based on the discussion and public input.

March 14, 2022 – Revised ARPA Project List Presented
Staff gave a presentation and shared the updated ARPA project list with the Select Board.

March 28, 2022 – Benn-Hi and Skate Park
Staff gave a presentation on the Benn-Hi redevelopment proposal, and community supporters presented on the Skate Park idea. Both ideas were given approval to move forward though final costs have not yet been finalized. It is expected that these two remaining projects will use up the remaining ARPA funds.

 


Eligible Uses of ARPA Funds – American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

ARPA includes four broad criteria outlining eligible uses:

  • To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
  • To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers;
  • For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID–19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency; and
  • To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

These guidelines are not 100% finalized so we need to be ready to adjust our priorities as needed for compliance.

More information regarding the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) can be found on the Vermont League of Cities and Towns website (CLICK HERE).


Initial Draft Priorities List

An initial draft list of suggested priorities for Economic Development and Infrastructure had been created by a Select Board sub-committee and Town of Bennington staff, with consultation by economic development consultants White and Burke, the BCRC, BBC, and the Health Department. These lists were broken down into “tiers” where the first tier of projects best aligns with a combination of 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.

MATERIALS (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD):
List of Projects
List of Projects, Detail
White & Burke Economic Consultants Review

A note about TIF: The White & Burke Review recommends the use of Bennington’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to advance some of the economic development projects. The Town of Bennington established a downtown TIF district in 2017 with the goal of stimulating economic development. The Town has yet to incur any TIF debt to advance any of the projects outlined in the TIF District Plan. Legislation in 2020 and 2021 extends the total time period in which Bennington can incur debt to be repaid with TIF to March 2029. However, the deadline to incur first TIF debt is March 31, 2022. To extend the window and preserve the opportunity to use TIF until 2029, the Town applied to VEPC for a substantial change which was approved and announced at the July 11 select board meeting.


Public Comments

The public comment period has now closed and all comments have been shared with the Select Board. A public presentation of the comments was held at the January 24 Select Board meeting.