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At last night’s City Council meeting, City staff presented an update on Citrus Heights’ American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Federal funding for COVID-19 relief. The City of Citrus Heights was one of the first cities to receive funding, thanks to the Finance team’s quick application. Citrus Heights is slated to receive a total of $15,676,972 for COVID-19 relief and economic recovery, the first half of which ($7.8 million) was received on May 10, 2021. (Click here to watch the presentation.)
Last night’s presentation to Council included: an overview of the U.S. Treasury’s 151-page interim guidelines for how the one-time Federal funds can be spent, the Finance team’s interpretation of how ARPA funding can be best-utilized in Citrus Heights, the importance of community engagement, and suggestions for two phases of spending.
The Treasury’s policies for spending the funds are still preliminary, with additional updates anticipated in August or September, and the final guideline date still unknown. During this initial period, Interim Administrative Services Director Bill Zenoni, who is head of the City’s Finance Department, explained that staff feel there is only clarity around certain specific expenditure categories. “Of the four categories of eligible expenditures the Treasury has outlined, some aspects are well-defined while other areas are still too vague to take action on,” said Zenoni.
The one eligible category that City staff feel confident about during this interim period states that ARPA funds may be used to rebuild public sector staffing to pre-pandemic levels. “This category allows us to use a portion of our one-time Federal relief dollars to restore Police Department staffing to the level we were at in January 2020,” said Interim City Manager Chris Boyd. “Exploring how our ARPA funds can support public safety has been a top priority for staff and City Council, as we know how important this service is to our community.” A City survey completed in May of this year asked Citrus Heights residents which of the City’s new strategic goals were most important; the top-selected goal was “sustain and preserve public safety.”
The two phases of proposed ARPA spending in Citrus Heights are:
“As both a guiding principle for Citrus Heights and a recommendation from the ARPA guidelines, community engagement will be a huge part of developing our recovery plan,” said Mayor Steve Miller. “Our residents and business community should expect robust communication from the City as we look to educate and field applicable ideas on how to best serve our community with these one-time Federal funds.”
City staff are expected to present another ARPA update and budget amendment for Police Department staffing at the June 24 City Council meeting.