ARPA Priorities

Determining Bennington Priorities for Using ARPA Funding

The town has been working to develop a 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.

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 we use the funds can be transformational for our community and we are seeking input from our community members to best determine those uses.

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 to give citizens the opportunity to comment on those suggestions and to make their own.

On This Page:

  • Process for Determining Funding Priorities
  • Eligible Uses of ARPA Funds
  • Suggested Priorities and Documents and Reference Materials
  • Public Comment Period NOW CLOSED – THANK YOU FOR YOUR INPUT!

Process for Determining Funding Priorities

January 10, 2022 – Select Board Meeting on Process and Eligibility
A public presentation will be made outlining the process for determining funding priorities along with an overview of ARPA, eligible funding uses, and answer any questions regarding the process. The merits of individual projects will be discussed at the following Select Board meeting on January 24.

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

January 24 – Select Board Meeting to Discuss Projects and Vote on Priority List
The Select Board will discuss the projects list and suggestions from the community. Please “Click Here” to access the public comment form. There is also a link below. The form is set up so that you can comment on one project at a time, or suggest your own. You are welcome to use the form as many times as you wish to comment on as many projects as desired. The public will have the opportunity to make additional comments, if they choose, at this meeting. A vote on an initial list of priorities will be made after the discussion.

 


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).


Suggested Priorities

An initial draft list of suggested priorities for Economic Development and Infrastructure has 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 are 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.

How public input can help:
Is there a lower tier project that you might know about that is farther along than we think? Are there possible partners to move a project forward that we don’t know about? (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 we had a partner ready to move on a project, that could elevate it to a tier one project.) Are there feasible projects that we don’t mention at all that we missed? The Select Board strongly urges the public to provide written comments via this website (or mail us or drop off at the Town Office) as written comments are by far the most effective and efficient way for the public to provide meaningful input.

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 would need to apply to VEPC for a substantial change before the end of March 2022.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The initial priority list will 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.


Public Comments

The public comment period has now closed.