Clintonville may receive $430,000
Council discusses American Rescue Plan funding
By Bert Lehman
Clintonville could receive an estimated $430,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The funds would come from the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
At its April 13 meeting, the Clintonville City Council approved a conceptual plan for spending the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The plan stipulates that final approval be requested after U.S. Treasury guidance is received and the program details are finalized. The council did not approve specific dollar amounts.
According to the draft for the conceptual plan, the city would receive two installments of funds, with the first half being received 60-90 days of the bill’s signing on March 11 and the second half being received 12 months after that.
All funding would need to be spent by Dec. 31, 2024, or the funds would be returned to the federal government.
• Lost Revenue/COVID Expenses – This includes lost revenue for 2020 and any COVID-related expenses that were not covered by other sources of funding. Lost revenue may include the amount the city lost when it reduced business licenses, as well as revenue lost for shelter rentals, and the refunding of soccer fees. Estimated cost would be $20,000.
• Additional COVID Mitigation Measures – This includes projects or expenses not yet incurred. Funds for this could be used to upgrade the city’s remote meetings capabilities for the Clintonville Community Center, as well as purchasing laptop computers for each council member and the mayor. Estimated cost would be $40,000.
• Utility Bill Assistance – Funds could be used to pay off all past due residential utility balances as of the close of business on April 8.
“This would include final billed accounts that are prepped to go on the tax roll, the majority of which are for rentals so this would assist landlords who would otherwise have to pay these fees,” according to the draft. Estimated cost would be $75,000.
• Business License Grant – This includes the refund of some business license fees. Estimated cost would be $12,000.
• E-Commerce Grant – This includes reimbursing 65% of the cost for a business in Clintonville to participate in the Waupaca County Economics Development Corporation’s e-commerce program. Recommended allocation is $35,000 with up to $25,000 expended in 2021.
• Tourism/Lodging Grant – This includes small non-matching grants to tourism or lodging entities that suffered economic loss as a result of COVID-19 closures or travel restrictions. Applicants would be required to provide proof of economic loss. Recommended allocation would be $7,000 with up to $5,000 awarded in 2021.
• Cultural and Performing Arts Grant – This would be a non-matching grant established to provide funds to cultural and performing arts organizations that are located in Clintonville or, in the case of performing arts organizations, perform primarily in Clintonville. Applicants would need to provide evidence of revenue loss or financial impact due to COVID. Recommended allocation would be $20,000 with up to $12,000 distributed in 2021.
• Non-profit Grant – This would be non-matching grants to non-profit organizations who are not eligible for the Cultural and Performing Arts Grant. Evidence of revenue loss would be required. Recommended allocation would be $30,000 with up to $15,000 distributed in 2021.
• Building Improvement Grant Program – This would allocate funds to the Redevelopment Authority’s BIGP to authorize a temporary change to the program to increase the award limit to allow for larger projects. Recommended allocation would be $30,000 to be distributed in 2022.
• Rental and Mortgage Assistance – This would involve creating a program similar to the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, but would also include mortgage assistance. Applicants would have to demonstrate financial hardship as a result of COVID and “be at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.” Recommended allocation would be $50,000.
• Infrastructure Project – The recommendation would be that all remaining funds be allocated to a future water or wastewater project or to partner with Waupaca County on its broadband expansion program. The U.S. Treasury still needs to provide clarification on this.
Plan not finalized
The council did not approve the specific dollar amounts, only the concept of the drafted plan. The city is still seeking some answers from the U.S. treasury, so no spending plan is being finalized at this time.
“My intent in doing this is so that I can fine tune and have a final plan ready for you guys,” Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland told the council. “My hope is that we’ll get Treasury guidance before the next Finance and Council meeting.”
Eveland said all indications are that the city would receive the first half of the funds by mid-June.
During the discussion, Ald. Julie Stumbris objected to only utility customers who are behind on utility bills receiving funds. She said she would prefer all utility customers to receive something.
Eveland said that was one of the first things she looked at, but said there are not enough funds to go around to do that.
“If we were to take the entire $438,000 that we are estimated to get, you would only look at about $100 on each residential utility bill,” Eveland said. “So, it depletes very fast.”
She added that the intent is to spread the funds around to where the most needs are.
The council also approved a special American Rescue Plan Act funds account. This will help the city track how and where the money is spent.