With the City of Newport expected to receive over $7 million in dedicated federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), City officials announced today via a press release that they will be kicking off a public engagement process next week to solicit ideas from individuals and non-profits to determine how best to utilize these dedicated one-time funds.

According to federal guidelines, Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds are intended to provide eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments with an infusion of resources to meet pandemic response needs and rebuild a stronger, and more equitable economy.

Over the course of six weeks, the City of Newport will be soliciting input online, in-person, and in writing aimed at maximizing the impact of Newport’s ARPA funding allotment.

On Wednesday, the City launched a dedicated ARPA webpage and Ideas Portal to encourage direct citizen participation by giving residents the ability to identify potential projects and provide feedback on City-identified needs. Over the course of the coming weeks, residents will also have the opportunity to share their thoughts through an online survey, community forum, and directly with City Councilors.

Although representing a relatively modest sum compared to the City’s annual budget, the City writes that these funds present an oversized opportunity to meet local needs in a flexible and supportive manner, including providing support for households, small businesses, and communities hardest hit by the crisis.

Under the terms of the American Rescue Plan Act, eligible uses the City may pursue include:

  • Supporting public health expenditures, including COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff
  • Addressing negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector
  • Replacing lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic
  • Providing premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors
  • Investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet

Anyone interested in learning more about the City’s ARPA process, including information on how to submit project proposals through the City’s ARPA Ideas Portal, should visit www.CityofNewport.com/ARPA

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).