City of Lufkin hears first of two budget amendment readings for American Rescue Plan funds

The ARPA funds will be used to help prepare in case of future winter storms like that seen in...
The ARPA funds will be used to help prepare in case of future winter storms like that seen in 2021.
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 12:27 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 5:05 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The Lufkin City Council heard the first of two readings on budget amendments for the use of ARPA money on certain city projects Tuesday night. City Engineer Eddie Aguilar says the Texas Department of Emergency Management has currently sent the city half of the funding so far.

“So now we are waiting on the second half of those funds, and the city overall is getting about just under $8.7 million to use those funds for pandemic relief,” said Aguilar.

ARPA funds can only be used on projects that fall within approved guidelines. The city council decided to appropriate the funding into four categories primarily centered around water and sewer infrastructure, but also for outdoor spaces and police and fire equipment. Interim City Manager Kevin Gee says that a big factor in allocating the funds was based on lessons learned and problem areas identified from the winter storm in February of 2021

“Based on recent events with winter storm Yuri, the effects of having extended power outages, water outages, utility departments, engineering departments, administration ... we got together to discuss what areas could we harden to increase our resiliency for these types of events,” said Gee.

As far as where the projects currently stand, Aguilar says that with the issues identified, they are currently in the planning phase and that the following step will be the design phase. Once that is done they will be put out for bid for contractors.

“When I got here a few months ago there was a list of projects so we had to prioritize those with our staff,” said Aguilar. “Also we are going to do some of the design in house for some of these projects but we are also consulting with another engineering firm locally to help us on the design - the planning, design, and management of those projects.”

The American Rescue Plan is part of the federal government’s $350 billion program. It is money meant to help municipalities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to recover by offering public health and vital public services that might suffer due to a decline in local revenue. Gee said that what the city chose to fund was all significant to keeping overall systems operational and functioning efficiently. He said that typically a city of Lufkin’s size is not able to do projects of this magnitude all at once without funding help.

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