Amarillo City Council approves plan for first round of American Rescue Plan funds

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council voted unanimously to approve a project plan for the city’s first installment of American Rescue Plan funding.

The city has a spending plan for the first installment, more than $19.8 million, of more than $39 million total from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Assistant City Manager and CFO for the City of Amarillo, Laura Storrs, said the city has been looking at eligible uses since the first installment was allocated in May.

She said the largest portion of this round of funding will be $11.2 million to go to revenue recovery for city services.

“We had a lot of things that were impacted during that time period, everything from hotel occupancy taxes. As you know, our parks and recreation, we cancelled a lot of those programs or golf courses were closed for a while. So we had revenue loss in all those areas,” said Storrs. “The civic center was closed for quite a while, we had revenue loss in that area. We did see sales tax dollars drop down for a period of time, and then other kind of smaller revenue sources during that time period that were affected by the pandemic.”

Another $500,000 will go to help senior citizens, including ventilation improvements for COVID safety and taking food insecurity measures.

“There are ways to utilize some of this ARPA funds to help bring that future food security back on line for them, that could potentially be through like a commercial kitchen, at a senior center that can help provide meals to those senior citizens in that setting,” Storrs said.

She said the city will look to see if there is eligibility for more funding for seniors in the next allocation.

The first round of ARP money will also help the city’s broadband project plan.

“We have been working for months on finding a solution to bring full connectivity to our entire community and so we have authorization now to spend $6 million out of this first installment to really start on those areas of town and bringing connectivity, broadband connectivity to those areas that do not have connectivity,” said Storrs.

She noted the city hopes to work together with other entities to expand broadband access, and at this point, they plan to seek another $6 million from the second allocation.

The council also approved an allocation of $100,000 for the Amarillo Convention and Visitors Bureau to help recoup losses.

Storrs said the city expects the second installment of ARP funds by late May or early June of 2022.

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