Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 20, 2021
At their May 18, 2021 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) approved Resolution 2021-72 authorizing $35,000 to retain Government Services Group, Inc. as a sole source vendor for outside consulting relating to the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
The City is eligible for an estimated $5.5 million dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) signed into law by President Biden on March 12th. The specifics for the grant program require interpretation. Government Services Group Inc. can assist the City with maximizing funding, minimizing the risk of cognizant agency claw back of funds, confirming the eligibility of funds, and provide continuous monitoring and open communications.
This consultant was successfully used by Nassau County to expedite distribution of the CARES Act funding earlier in the pandemic. The contractor will interpret Treasury Department guidelines to determine how the ATP funds may be used and whether the expenses incurred are appropriate.
Mayor Mike Lednovich explained that the City is engaging a consultant because of the complexity of the federal rules governing expenditures of these funds coupled with the lack of inhouse expertise.
According to an article recently published in Smart Cities https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/cities-navigate-how-to-maximize-incoming-american-rescue-plan-funds/600255/ the stimulus package will send $350B to states, counties, cities and tribal and territorial governments “to replace lost revenue to help continue vital public services and retain jobs, support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address systemic public health and economic challenges that contributed to inequities during the pandemic.”
The Treasure Rule governing the distribution and use of funds consists of 151 pages. The money must be spent by the end of 2024. Because these are one time only funds, cities around the country are trying to decide how best to use them to the benefit of their citizens without incurring long lasting and recurring expenses which might not be sustainable.