April 24, 2024

Newton’s ARPA funding goes towards public safety, infrastructure

Council approves allocation of $2.27M in federal stimulus money for FY23, FY24

Newton’s more than $2.27 million of federal stimulus money will mainly be used for public safety and infrastructure improvements, city documents say.

Throughout fiscal years 2023 and 2024, the city plans to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to purchase new equipment for the fire department and police department, develop areas of the Arbor Estates and reconstruct a portion of West Fourth Street South. So far, the city has received half of its ARPA funds.

The city received its first payment of ARPA funds of more than $1.13 million in August and November of 2021. The second payment for the same amount will arrive August 2022. Staff allocated funding based on the feedback received from council members in the 2021 goal setting session and in budget workshops.

On Feb. 21, the Newton City Council approved the allocation of ARPA funds to the following projects in fiscal year 2023, totaling $1,920,500:

• Portion of Arbor States Phase 2 — $1.15 million

• Portion of West Fourth Street South reconstruction — $550,000

• Police vehicles — $120,300

• Miscellaneous police equipment — $35,000

• Self-contained breathing apparatus bottles and turnout gear — $22,250

• Self-contained breathing apparatus harnesses for fire station — $18,000

• Bath/locker/bunk remodel at fire station — $15,000

• In-car police computers — $10,000

Likewise, the council also approved the allocation of ARPA funds to the following projects in fiscal year 2024, totaling $105,679:

• East bay flooring at fire station — $60,000

• Self-contained breathing apparatus harnesses and bottles — $20,250

• Bath/locker/bunk remodel — $15,000

• Turnout gear for fire department — $10,429

The city has also allocated 10 percent of its ARPA funds, or $227,005, for the administration of the program. However, if the funds are not spent on administration, city documents say discussions will be held by council members on how to reallocate the funds elsewhere.

According to city documents, the expenses to administer the ARPA program are expected to start in March 2022 and run through December 2026, coinciding with the beginning and ending dates of the required reporting. City council authorized a new financial analyst position be created to administer the program.

The new position’s pay, benefits and related expenses — as well as 10 percent of the city finance officer’s current wage — is also proposed to be paid with ARPA funds starting with the March 2022 payrolls and ending December 2026.

All equipment and project expenses must still receive council approval.

Staff project a balance of $7,500 be reserved for possible increases to the cost of the approved projects or equipment which will use ARPA funding.

Newton City Administrator Matt Muckler told Newton News in a recent interview regarding city budget that the ARPA funding is “one-time money,” which is why council felt it was important to use the bulk of the dollars on expenses that do not have ongoing costs, such as salaries.

However, Muckler did acknowledge some funds are going towards the city’s new financial analyst position. But the city is also offsetting that portion with the wages of its soon to be retiring financial officer. The financial analyst will also receive guidance from the financial officer.

Arbor Estates, a 70-acre parcel of land in northeast Newton, has been given the most ARPA funds from the city. The land is primed for residential development. To help that along, Muckler said funds will specifically go towards the base construction of the streets and stormwater infrastructure.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.