Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
February 4, 2022
Joseph Sheets and Holly Verra, representatives of Government Services Group (GSG) consulting briefed the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) as it affects the City during the February 1, 2022 FBCC meeting. Joseph Sheets, principal spokesman for the firm, reported that the City is eligible to receive $6.59M of the $1.9T authorized by Congress. The federal payout via the state covers costs for infrastructure incurred from March 2021 to December 2024.
ARP was created in response to the Covid pandemic as a means to stimulate the economy and provide new jobs.
ARP funds may NOT be used to cover:
- Net reduction in tax revenue
- Deposits into pension funds
- Funding debt service, legal settlements or judgments
- Deposits into any “rainy day” funds or financial reserves
To date the City has identified $4.4M in priorities for projects involving resiliency, water, stormwater, and wastewater.
Funds remaining to be allocated: $2,195,742.
Additional projects being considered under this program include:
- Beach walkovers
- Downtown shoreline resiliency
- Trails and sidewalks
- Park infrastructure (i.e. fencing, dugouts)
- City Hall facility
All of these projects are potentially eligible under the program.
Sheets explained that each project identified must be carefully reviewed against approval criteria. If a project has a high or unknown risk of disapproval, after the fact the federal government could clawback money the City expended on that project.
Sheets added that the ARP has made more money available to cities and counties than has been provided by the federal government over the past 50 years. He said that it is in the City’s best interest to move quickly on eligible projects, preferably within 90 days. The first Project & Expenditure Report is due by April 30, 2022. Thereafter reports are due annually.
Projects that are “shovel ready” are likely to be funded quickly. All ARP costs must be incurred by December 31, 2024. Any monies under this program not expended by December 2026 will revert to the U.S. Treasury.