PUEBLO—Recently Mayor of Pueblo Nick Gradisar updated City Council members at a Work Session with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and allocation. Mayor Gradisar explained the newly updated numbers and regulations to ensure transparency of the process.
“We’re grateful for the community members who have been part of this process with ARPA funding and that we’ve been able to distribute over $7,000,000 to assist the City of Pueblo through the pandemic,” said Gradisar. “These projects really make a difference in our city and it’s important that our citizens have been able to voice where the dollars are allocated.”
The City of Pueblo designated seven pillars of focus for ARPA which include individuals and households, tourism and hospitality, youth, non-profits, small businesses, infrastructure and lastly community resilience. The $36.7 million in ARPA funding must be encumbered by December 31, 2024, with half of the funds received in May of 2021 and the other half anticipated to be received in May of this year.
A total of 75 community volunteers serve on the task force pillars for ARPA projects. In 2021, 28 projects were approved for funding by City Council after a reviewed total of 207 ARPA submissions.
Julia Cordova the ARPA coordinator shared her experience with the projects so far. “My position is unique; I have the privilege of participating in all the moving parts in both the internal and external ARPA taskforces,” said Cordova.
The $7,054,152.06 that has currently been awarded thus far has been disbursed across six of the seven pillar groups through round three of the ARPA allocations. Now at round four, the pillar leads from the volunteer groups are recommending top proposals to the internal task force for approval before presenting at City Council.
“This process begins when proposals are submitted, and follows each submission until they are recommended to, and approved for funding by City Council,” said Cordova. “Working with seven community-led pillars is inspiring, this diverse group encompasses the voice of our community and offers unique solutions on how proposals can lessen the hardships caused by the pandemic. More specifically, the pillar leads have been extremely helpful in ensuring taskforces are kept up to date, as well as assisting in communications between the internal team and proposal submitters. Our most important conversations in the internal meetings stem from the feedback received from the pillars during the review process, as well as their discussions in monthly pillar meetings.”
Individuals and Households received $2,818,702 thus far. Posada received $395,000 which assisted with multiple project needs to include affordable housing, sheltering needs, housing for families with disabilities and assistance with low-income units for behavioral health services, medical services and employment and education services for youth 18-25. Care and Share received $250,000 to meet COVID-19 demand for hunger relief. Colorado Legal Services received $280,694 which contributed to the Eviction Diversion Project with a partnership with the Pueblo Bar Association. This assists with providing legal services to approximately 200 individuals at risk of eviction each year. A Vaccine Incentive for City of Pueblo employees received $346,415.50 as part of this pillar. Rocky Mountain SER received $28,050 to assist with the purchase of a 7x12 refrigerated/freezer trailer 100V and generator which provides on-demand healthy and nutritious food to Pueblo residents experiencing COVID-19 hardships in food insecure areas. Premium Pay to Police and Fire employees received $1,077,906.55. Senior Resource Development Agency (SRDA) received $37,500 which expanded the social distancing and healthy outdoor experiences for seniors. Pueblo Cooperative Care received $169,844 for the Nutrition on Wheels program. Pueblo Rescue Mission received $71,406 which supported the community clean up HOPE project which offers work alternatives and day labor for those experiencing homelessness. Martin Luther King, Jr. Church, Pastor Paul Montoya received $25,000 which was compensation for evenings when temperatures drop and for much needed supplies to assist with homelessness and providing shelter.
Infrastructure has received $2 million in funding which was allocated in Sewer Infrastructure for Wastewater line expansion was much needed work with the City of Pueblo.
Youth received $778,651 total for the pillar allocation. Pueblo Library District received $500,000 which was part of a youth reading program involving children 0-17, who were required to check out 10 books and provide feedback on what they read. This also helped children learn about banking and saving for the future with incentives to continue to earn more money in the future. Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC) received $36,000 to support the Brown Bag Presentation Series which are information sessions enriched with early childhood development and education for parents, guardians or employees caring for children birth to age five. There are 35 different topic sessions with valuable information. Pueblo Cooperative Care Center received $36,690 for Power-Up Kidz Sacks. Pueblo Poverty Foundation received $57,000 for assistance during the holidays with Pueblo families and youth. Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC) received $36,000 to support the Brown Bag Presentation Series which are information sessions enriched with early childhood development and education for parents, guardians or employees caring for children birth to age five. There are 35 different top sessions with valuable information. Pueblo Transit received $35,651 which supported free bus ride continuation and assistance for parents accompanying minors who ride the bus. Pueblo Community College received $150,000 for the Children’s First initiative which funded new and expanded efforts for childcare throughout the city of Pueblo.
Community Resilience received $561,770. Pueblo Community Gardens Project received $20,000. Health Solutions received $360,000 which paid for local law enforcement and behavioral health professionals to partner for ride along calls for mental health crisis calls. All Pueblo Grows Together Seed Project received $8,000 which provided funding for seeds and supplies which covers two years of funding for kits provided to the public seed education. Pueblo Child Advocacy Center received $148,770 which assisted with bridging the gap for mental health needs for children in care and to assist with costs of medical exams. Colorado Health Network- Access Point Pueblo received $25,000 which assisted with providing more sharps containers for properly disposing syringes. Additionally, it expanded the People Picking Up Points which assists with awareness, education and tools to empower citizens of Pueblo to safely remove discarded needles from public places.
The non-profit pillar received a total of $210,000. Pueblo Cooperative Care Center received $23,725 for infrastructure needs assistance. Pueblo Community Soup Kitchen received $210,000 as a part of this pillar which assisted with equipment needs for a new stove hood vent and motor, paper supplies, general operating expenses and assistance with retention of staff for salaries.
ARPA funds can support public health expenditures with COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare and certain public health and safety staff. They may also be used to address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacts industries and the public sector. ARPA funds may invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and to expand access to broadband internet. In addition, funds can replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic.
The Mayor concluded the update, “We still have an additional $18 million coming to us hopefully in May and we’re continuing to review more proposals in our fourth round of ARPA funding allocation,” said Gradisar. “We know we have some unique ways we can help our city and I’m excited to hear more ideas of how to make Pueblo a better place to live, work and visit.”