OGDEN — Ogden City is set to get another significant chunk of change from the federal government, and officials say they are beginning to develop a detailed plan that will guide how the money is spent.
In early spring, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which will provide an additional $350 billion in relief around the United States to combat impacts the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on the economy and public health. The legislation comes on top of the federal government’s 2020 Coronavirus Relief Fund, which was established with the CARES Act, and was distributed to Utah municipalities by the state. Utah received $1.25 billion in CRF money, which was given out to counties and cities using a population-based formula.
Under the new ARPA, states, counties, tribal governments, metropolitan cities, and other governmental entities are eligible to receive more funding. Ogden is expected to receive a total of $25 million as part of the legislation, according to City Council documents. The city is eligible to receive $12.5 million beginning now, with a second cycle of funding bringing another $12.5 million to the city a year from now.
Wayne Bradshaw, policy director at the Utah League of Cities and Towns, said there will be money dedicated to every city, town and county across the U.S. In Utah, $460 million will go to cities and towns, $660 million will go to counties, and $1.5 billion to the state.
“This is double what we saw under the CARES funding,” Bradshaw said. “So it’s quite a bit of money that’s coming in.”
Bradshaw said the ARPA money has more spending flexibility than the CARES money offered and a longer window to spend it, but noted that spending will be confined to a few sectors. He said Ogden’s dollars can be spent on public health programs, economic hardship, pay for essential workers, public sector revenue shortfalls, and water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
The city will have until 2024 to obligate the funds, and until 2026 to spend them. Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said the city administration is developing a plan for spending the money, but is likely “30 to 60 days out” before completing it and specifying where funds will be used.
“We are working now to understand the rules and taking a look at listing possibilities,” Johnson said. “Once we come up with what our plan is, we’ll come to (the council).”
Bradshaw said he’s heard that many cities around the state are interested in spending the money for water infrastructure. The entire state of Utah is in a significant drought and efficient use of water is top of mind for many governments right now.
“Obviously, water and sewer are ... two (spending options) that float to the top,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said money associated with the act is generally borrowed, which means selecting the right projects is integral.
“We’re hoping these can be transformational (projects) for communities,” he said. “Because the kids of your communities today are potentially going to be paying these dollars back.”