The City of Lancaster has received $39.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in response to the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency. Based on initial guidance from US Treasury, these funds can be used in a few main ways: responding to Covid-19 and its negative economic impacts; replacing lost municipal revenue; water and sewer infrastructure and broadband investments. Funds need to be committed by December 31, 2024 and spent by December 31, 2026.
The City of Lancaster is 7.3 square miles; has 59,433 residents; is 40% Hispanic, 13% Black, 38% White, 4% Asian and 4% multi-racial; and has disproportionately high poverty, low incomes and high taxes compared with Lancaster County as a whole.
This once-in-a-generation investment must be made with great care and thought about what is most needed in this specific community, with transparency and through engagement with our community about how to invest these public dollars.
As for what to expect next:
Timing is also dictating that we will bring one water infrastructure request to Council at next week’s Public Works Committee meeting.
Beyond this single request, you can expect a more robust strategy document based on the strategic plan that my administration is in the midst of updating. We plan to come back to you, Council, within the next month or so with an outline of the strategic plan AND to identify key funding areas and potential priorities for your input.
At that point, we will also gather feedback about what funding areas residents and stakeholders would like the city to prioritize through an engagement process.
All proposed ARPA investments will need to come to Council for approval.
In addition to the process, I’d like to share with you conceptually about how we are thinking about these investments in broad terms. So very briefly, we expect that some portion of these funds will go toward ensuring a strong fiscal position for the city. Another portion will go to specified ARPA-allowed infrastructure and broadband investments. And based on research and public surveys about pressing needs and priorities for city residents, supporting a sustainable and equitable economic recovery from Covid – with emphasis on affordable housing.
Council and neighbors, we look forward to working with you through these next steps.