Berlin Eyes Capital Plan Before Utilizing Rescue Funds

BERLIN – Mayor Zack Tyndall says the town will develop a capital plan before officials begin to consider how to spend close to $4.8 million in federal funding.

While a discussion of the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation of $4,794,272.70 was tabled last week, municipal officials will soon be tasked with determining the best way to use the money. Tyndall says the first step will be developing a capital plan for the town.

“It’s a lot of money,” he said. “It’s a huge responsibility to make sure that money is spent effectively.”

The town has already received the first half of its ARPA funding, $2,397,136.35. That money, which has to be allocated by Dec. 24 and spent by Dec. 26, is in a separate account the town created. Berlin expects to receive the second half of its funding this time next year, according to Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood.

Tyndall, who wanted to include strategic planning funding in the town’s budget, said planning had to occur before the town spent any of the federal funds.

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“Before the council sets a direction for ARPA I want us to have a framework of a five-year capital plan,” he said.

He believes the funds need to be spent it a way that “adds value to the town.” When asked if the money would help fund some things that didn’t make it into the current year’s budget, he said it would not.

“We are not even discussing what is going to be funded yet,” he said. “The first of the discussions is creating the five-year capital plan. From there we need to have a solid discussion with council on what they’d like to see.”

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provided $350 billion in funding for state and local governments. Eligible uses for the funds include revenue replacement, COVID-19 expenditures, premium pay for essential workers and investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. Worcester County officials agreed last month to use the first half of the county’s roughly $10 million in ARPA funds to invest in broadband and to increase financial support for fire companies.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.