Lander approves 10 ARPA grant requests; staff hopes ‘at least a couple’ get funded

    The Lander City Council approved 10 applications for funding through the federal American Rescue Plan Act this week, but city staff said it’s unlikely that all of the requests will be granted.

    “We’re putting in for all of these as separate projects in hopes that at least a couple of them will end up getting funded,” city treasurer Charri Lara said during a council meeting Tuesday.

    The applications will be submitted to the State Loan and Investment Board’s Water and Sewer ARPA Grant Program, which only has $50 million to distribute statewide, she pointed out.


    It would take almost $52 million to fulfill Lander’s grant requests alone.

    Councilmember Dan Hahn asked if the city would be able to afford the matching money associated with all 10 grant requests, if they were all awarded.

    Public works director Lance Hopkin said there is enough money in the city’s optional 1 percent sales tax fund to cover all 10 match requirements.

    “We penciled it out that we think we can afford to handle them all,” he said, though he pointed out that construction costs are “still going up and up and up.”


    “That’s some of my concern,” Hopkin said. “I’m not sure what next year is going to look like.”

    Another limiting factor is time, Hopkin said.

    “We would be starting these projects in 2023, and I would be worried about being able to build all of them in a year or two,” he said. “We would have to space them over several years just to be able to manage them and be able to pull that off. So there will be a lot of thought that goes into what we can do if we are awarded multiple projects.”


    Federal ‘strings’

    The council heard from one community member Tuesday who expressed opposition to the federal grant funding, which she said comes with “strings attached.”

     “We do not want any additional federal grant money,” resident Karen Wetzel said.

    Later, Councilmember John Larsen asked staff to describe the requirements that accompany federal funding.


    “I’m just curious as to what kind of strings are attached … that we need to worry about,” he said, adding, “This is just a wonderful opportunity to take care of (these projects). What are the drawbacks of the federal funds coming in?”

    Lara said there are more reporting requirements and regulations associated with federal grants, including adherence to the Davis-Bacon Act for wages and the Buy American Act.

    The ARPA money doesn’t come with any “special” requirements other than those generally associated with federal funding, Hopkin said, calling the grant program “pretty typical.”

    “A lot of it (is) just making sure that we’re tracking the funds appropriately and doing the projects appropriately,” he said. “Our systems are built for it.”

    He also pointed out that, if the city tried to complete the listed projects using only local money, it would take decades.

    “You’d be looking at being able to do only one of these projects maybe every four to five years,” he said. “We’re trying to pull off multiple projects in a much shorter span.”

    Councilmembers commended staff for their work on the grant applications before approving all 10 unanimously.

    “I’m deeply supportive of these projects,” Councilmember Julia Stuble said. “I know there are residents who live on these streets and who drive them regularly who will be in strong support of having these improvements made.”

    For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.


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