The ins and out's of ARPA funds

Time to overcome the challenges brought to us by Covid-19!

ARPA funds (American Rescue Plan Act) was brought into play to support communities, organizations and individuals recover from the pandemic and its after-effects. 

Four categories were identified to cover a wide spectrum of facilities, services and needs within communities that ARPA funds can be used. 

We’ve called in help from a Wisconsin based law firm to help us understand the ins and out’s of ARPA. Because we’re amazing and we love to solve problems, here’s some guidance, in non-legal talk, to help you understand your way around ARPA.

The four categories: 

(b) Responding to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts.

(c) Providing premium pay to eligible workers.

(d) Providing government services.

(e) To make necessary investments in infrastructure.

Because, traditionally, local government interactions were conducted face-to-face whether hearings, court proceedings, tax payments, permit and license applications and payments and facility bookings - throughout the Covid-19 pandemic face-to-face interaction was discouraged to prohibit the spread while keeping communities and individuals safe. This meant an instant migration to the online space, which proved to be challenging to local governments on several levels. 

HeyGov is a new government app that helps your municipality go paperless in the post-COVID era. It consists of a toolkit to make the transition to digital effortless: it is web-based and available as an app. 

HeyGov is eligible for funding within two of these categories:

Category B: “First, identify the need and/or negative impact: the local government needs to perform its essential work and the elimination of face-to-face interactions, in the absence of increased Internet utility, has negatively impacted that essential work by severely disrupting or even eliminating it. Second, identify how the funds address the need and/or negative impact: increased Internet utility for the local government’s essential work allows such work to continue despite the decline in face-to-face interactions.”

When choosing this option it is important to remember that the motivation for the choice is necessary: this can be in the form of written facts, analysis or surveys to support the underlying reason. 

Category D: “This purpose category instead involves doing the math to determine the available budget. The available budget is the revenue shortfall attributable to the COVID–19 public health emergency. Spending within this budget could be on virtually any local government services to include HeyGov services, whether or not a local government already has such services.”

This seems to be more of a tricky one, but fear not, there is a method in the madness. The difference between the counterfactual revenue and the local government’s actual revenue is your ARPA available budget. For smaller municipalities, this may not be a significant amount. 

Insights to remember: 

• ARPA funds are administered by the US Treasury 

• Pick a category, best suited to your community's circumstances and needs, motivate for the use of HeyGov within the parameters of the category. 

• Unused funds have to be returned. It's in the local government's interest to spend the funds. 

• Keeping adequate and in-depth reports on how the funds are spent is vital. This includes case studies, needs analysis, surveys and facts. 

• ARPA expenditures must occur between the period from March 3, 2021 - to December 31, 2024.

• Use it or lose it! Any unspent ARPA funds need to be returned to the Treasury by December 31, 2026.

• Consult your municipal attorney for in-depth guidance. 

Take advantage of the ARPA opportunities available to you, to help both you and your municipality. 

*Legal advice by Dempsey Law.

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