The Select Board on Monday, Oct. 25, unanimously approved the town manager’s final recommendations about how to spend $35.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
In response to board members’ and residents’ suggestions, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine made several changes to the proposed framework since the board’s last meeting, Oct. 13.
“I made a series of reductions to the revenue loss/general fund category in order to accommodate changes in other categories. I’m working with state Representatives Sean Garballey and Dave Rogers, along with Senator Cindy Friedman, to make sure this aligns with state ARPA funding.” These changes include:
- Premium pay for the town’s and school’s essential workers is now $4 million, an increase from $3,247,893. He said he had spoken to the presidents of town police and fire department unions to get their thoughts.
- A new category is added: $500,000 in premium pay for private-sector essential workers. The state House of Representatives has released its ARPA surplus bill, which includes premium pay for essential workers, “so we’ve been able to create a good parallel,” he said.
- The allotment for food security is now $395,000, up from $295,000. “I checked with Arlington’s food service organizations, to make sure we meet the town’s food needs,” he said.
- The amounts for improvements to HVAC and to parks and open spaces were modestly reduced.
“Everything else remains the same,” said Chapdelaine.
“I also heard from the Arlington Housing Authority about buying affordable condominium units. I think it’s a good idea, and ask that the board tonight endorse the allocation for this category, while we await further analysis,” added Chapdelaine.
Board member Eric Helmuth said, “I really like what’s been done, and appreciate the increases in food and premium pay. A lot of workers deserve that pay; they worked during Covid, and with low pay, ARPA’s values reflect our community’s value: public health, mental health, and the disadvantaged.”
Board member Len Diggins said: “I’m pleased with what I see. I want poor people to have enough.”
Board member Diane Mahon said, “A lot of people who aren’t making a decent living wage are sometimes fearful to ask for help. I want to enable them to get what they deserve/need. This great increase in premium pay is fantastic.”
Board member John Hurd said: “Allocating $4 million for premium pay is a good amount for all the vast efforts and sacrifices made during the pandemic, especially by first responders. It’s not a bonus, it compensates them for what they did during pandemic. … I look forward to four years from now, once we’ve made these investments in the town.”
Resident Elizabeth Dray, a Precinct 8 Town Meeting member,, said, “I’m thrilled to see the inclusion of equity outreach and translation services.”
Details in proposed ARPA vote >>
Fiscal 21 year-end financial report
Sandy Pooler, deputy town manager/finance director, presented the town’s year-end financial report (fourth quarter of fiscal 2021) to the board, which they unanimously received.
“This is the second year in row that we’ve been able to present a year-end financial report to the Select Board. The numbers look good. On the expense side, all spending has stayed within budget. On the revenue side, we came in on budget, albeit lower budgets than in the past due to Covid,” said Pooler.
“We have a good, balanced budget. Departments are spending less than they budgeted. We have a little more than $11 million in certified free cash, a positive number for us, and a revenue surplus of $759,050. Our revenue estimates were realistic.
“Town departments have a total of $1,512,574 encumbered, money that’s turned back to the town. We have a fee collection rate of 135 percent, which is running ahead of estimates because of $158,647 of marijuana sales revenue,” added Pooler.
Helmuth said, “This shows the town’s awesome fiscal management. It’s difficult to make budget adjustments when revenues are tough, yet town services haven’t suffered. Residents are getting good value for their tax dollars.”
“Finances are something we need to know. When the numbers are broken out, we can understand where we are with our town finances. I appreciate that in the midst of Covid we scaled back some of our estimates, and that some revenues exceeded our expectations,” said Hurd.
More from the Oct. 25 meeting will be reported.
See the entire Oct. 25 broadcast on ACMi:
This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.
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