A city-hosted town hall meeting was conducted on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Elaine K Smith Building to discuss the results of recent surveys to uncover the community’s preferred use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. City Manager, Taylour Tedder, joined by other city staff, led the presentation to residents. Per the City’s website, more than $21 million in ARPA funding would be distributed to the city by the federal government. The funding breakdown is as follows:
- $11,773,790 must be spent on ARPA-approved expenditures (e.g. water/wastewater infrastructure, pandemic response, supporting non-profits, small businesses, premium pay, etc.)
- $10,000,000 under the streamlined revenue loss provision may be spent in any way.
It was noted that the ARPA online survey had been promoted via the City’s website and also various media outlets. There were 128 respondents to the survey itself, and 20 emails were received. Additionally, paper surveys were disseminated to the Senior Center during March and April. There were 65 paper surveys completed.
The presentation continued with various slides indicating tallies for different categories in the survey, with the results broken down by online voters and seniors (paper surveys) votes. Priorities for each group varied. In the Infrastructure category, for example, online votes ranked Wastewater Capital Improvement Projects as their biggest priority, while seniors advocated for Lunch and Food Pantry Assistance at the Senior Center. The tallies were relatively even for the plan to Convert Raw Water for Water Conservation at City Parks, with online voters making that their third priority and seniors ranking in number three in their top priorities as well.
When it came to Top Fiscal Recovery Votes, the top priority for online voters was Facilities Upgrades/Security/Renovations. Seniors identified Home Repair Program for Seniors as their top goal for funding. Funding for a Dog Park in Existing Park Area was popular with both voting demographics. It was the second most popular online choice and seniors ranked it a close third. The New Fire Station/Public Safety Building, which had previously been identified by Fire Chief William Gray as critical to the safety of the community received few votes.
Parks and Recreation Ideas that were popular with all voters were Dedicated Pickle Ball Courts and a New Pool. The top Public Works Idea included Street and Alley Maintenance. The top write-in idea was Senior Center Upgrade/Maintenance.
City Manager Tedder then explained ideas that couldn’t be done, due to constraints placed on the funding. These ideas were lower property taxes, interstate water line, owner/builder finance program and reducing the costs of building (construction).
Meeting attendees were given Post-It notes prior to the meeting and asked to identify priorities on each of the notes. The attendees then placed the notes on the appropriate boards around the room. This information was gathered by city staff and will be used when they develop a complete report on their community survey. The report is expected to be completed in mid- to late June.
A question and answer period followed. The PowerPoint slide presentation with vote tabulations can be found on the city’s website HERE. The meeting was recorded and will be uploaded to the city’s YouTube channel HERE. Community members can expect to receive a complete report, including the information collected during the Town Hall meeting sometime in June.