Municipality, assembly exploring best utilization for next round of ARPA funds

The Municipality of Anchorage is expecting the next round of American Rescue Plan Act funds next month.
Published: Apr. 30, 2022 at 2:08 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Municipality of Anchorage is expecting the next round of American Rescue Plan Act funds next month.

During a work session on Friday, the assembly explored a possible timeline and framework for how COVID Relief funds could be properly distributed. However, Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration also has some ideas on how the funds could be best utilized.

The Municipality of Anchorage is expecting roughly $50 million in this next round of American Rescue Plan Act funds, over the past few years the municipality has distributed more than $214 million according to Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance.

LaFrance said that the funds were distributed “to local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals that help prevent an economic crisis, and delivered valuable services to people in need.”

At the beginning of Friday’s work session with consultants from Professional Growth Systems — a group that specializes in strategic planning — assembly members discussed things they can improve on in this next round of fund distribution such as communication with the public.

“The first time that we did this with CARES Act funds, there were some concerns that we were taking a little bit too long to get the money out,” assembly member Felix Rivera said. “Then with ARPA funds I heard some concerns that it was too short of a time frame.”

Next, assembly members discussed a framework for how funds should be prioritized. Child care and housing were at the top of the list, followed by economic stimulus and workforce development, and then community investments and downtown development.

However, during this past Tuesday’s assembly meeting, Mayor Dave Bronson presented a resolution with a long list of suggestions on how the funds could be best utilized within the municipality.

“We’ve had two years of COVID, you know COVID shutdowns were pretty devastating for us,” Bronson said in an interview

Finance Committee Co-Chair Forrest Dunbar issued a statement about Bronson’s resolution on ARPA distribution within the municipality.

“There are some worthy projects and suggestions that the Administration has put forward, and we will balance those with the input of our constituents, Assembly Members, and community leaders,” Dunbar said.

Bronson said funds could be best utilized by investing money in the municipality to offset rising fuel cost, and more than $10 million for two years of operations for the proposed Navigation Center.

”It was a broad array of things that we asked for from pools to a homeless Navigation Center, we have got public safety hit public safety, EMS pretty hard,” Bronson said.

The assembly plans to start the application process in early May for applicants interested in obtaining ARPA funds and have it open for two weeks. They would then liken approve an ordinance for distributing funds in early June.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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