The City of Powell has received $535,924 from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) — tens of thousands of dollars more than it was expecting — and city leaders are now figuring out …
The City of Powell has received $535,924 from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) — tens of thousands of dollars more than it was expecting — and city leaders are now figuring out how best to spend the money.
City Administrator Zack Thorington asked the city council Monday about using the funds for storm drain improvements on the north end of Division Street as well as to replace revenue that the Powell Aquatic Center lost during COVID-19-related closures last year.
Thorington said the city had expected to receive about $940,000 in ARP funding: half this year and the other half next year.
“With no explanation why,” the city received more than $500,000, Thorington said, and he believes the city might receive the same amount next year.
He speculated the higher disbursement is the result of some towns rejecting the money for a variety of reasons, including the reporting requirements, which can cost more than the money received for small towns. The state is therefore distributing the ARP funding among fewer entities.
For the City of Powell, the Division Street upgrades and lost revenue at the pool were identified as eligible uses of the money that fit the city’s needs, Thorington explained. Besides eligibility, the reporting requirements can be arduous, and he said the two projects would minimize that burden.
To replace the roughly $100,000 that the Powell Aquatic Center lost last year, there would be one single reporting requirement to fulfill. With infrastructure projects, Thorington suggested it would be better to do a single project rather than multiple ones, as each would have its own set of reporting requirements for staff to fulfill.
Currently, the storm drain infrastructure on Division Street doesn’t drain properly, and during heavy rains, water runs west down Seventh Street.
“Everything on the west end ends up at that corner” of Division and Seventh, Thorington said.
Another benefit of the storm drain project is that the paving on Division Street ends shortly north of Seventh Street, which would save the cost of repaving after the pipe was laid.
The project would also be beneficial to the larger plan to widen Division Street — along with replacement of water, sewer, and storm drain under the road — as was done with Absaroka Street in 2019.
The larger Division widening project will require a much larger amount of money than the ARP funds provide and will likely require voter approval of a specific-purpose tax plus funding from the city’s enterprise funds, which are supported by charges for city services.
Erik Wachob with the city’s engineering firm, Engineering Associates, said doing the northern Division Street project with ARP funds would allow the city to have drainage in place when it does the larger widening project.
“I know people downstream on Seventh would certainly appreciate not having to be out there with their shovels trying to keep the water going,” Councilor Steve Lensegrav added.
The council agreed that, among the city’s needs, the two projects Thorington proposed would be the best use of the ARP funding. It took no action, simply allowing city staff to proceed with further planning for the projects.
The city has until the end of 2024 to determine how the funds will be used, and the funding must be spent by the end of 2026.