Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tonight, Council Will Consider (Once Again) How to Spend $5.4 million in ARPA Funds

Previously rejected using the funds to extend reclaimed water system
Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will once again consider obligating $5.4 million in restricted American Rescue and Recovery Act Funds ("ARPA").  The council discussed this in December, rejecting an opportunity to obligate these funds for extending the reclaimed water system.

Restricted use funds
These funds can only be used for any of the following three qualified uses: Responding to the Public Health and Economic Impacts of COVID-19; Premium Pay; and Water, Sewer & Broadband Infrastructure. 

Town staff has identified four broad capital improvement project areas where the funds could be obligated
These four areas are shown in the panel right. They include projects identified in the town's current 10 year capital improvement program.
The primary focus of the tourism projects is the refurbishment of Steam Pump Ranch. Projects include renovating the Proctor-Leiber House ($1.5m);building a new northern entry by panhandle stables/event space( $1.5m) and repairing the Tack building ($550k). Staff also suggests that the funds could be used to fund restoring Westward Look Drive. These improvements were agreed upon when the town annexed the area.
The funds could be used to pay for Sierra Wash improvements.
There are six water projects. All of these relate to either obtaining or distributing water
Using the ARPA money to extend the reclaimed water system is still a viable option. Use of the funds for that purpose was rejected by the council majority for four reasons: 
  • The cost of extending the system will most certainly exceed the $5.4 available. Still, the APRA funds will be a substantial contribution to the total cost. Town staff will provide that estimate in June
  • The town might treat the reclaimed water and add it to the town's water supply
  • Maybe more water will be available one day from desalinization
  • The town might not be able to spend all of the $5.4 million before the spending deadline if this project is chosen
There is no urgent need to obligate the funds now
The funds must also be obligated to a specific use by the end of calendar year 2024. The funds must be spent by the end of calendar 2026. Thus, there is still time to make a decision on how to use these funds.
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