Citizens speak out on how to spend millions in funds

By Valerie Cury

As part of the Purcellville’s July 13 Town Council meeting, a public hearing was held on the allocation of the first distribution of Federal Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

The first distribution to the Town is big, over $5 million, $5, 279,922 to be exact. The total allotted funding is $10,559,844, with the second half expected to come to the Town in approximately 12 months.

Since the funds exceed one percent of the Town’s Operating Budget, a public hearing was required, as well as a proposal to amend the FY 2022 Adopted Budget through the appropriation of ARPA funding. 

The Town Council will discuss at later meetings the details of how to allocate the funds.

Purcellville resident, Chris Stevenson was the lone in-person speaker, who asked the Council to consider donating some of the funds to a Purcellville-based nonprofit that would help with water bills, sewer bills, and a restaurant voucher program.

The Town received citizen input via an electronic POLCO citizen survey.

In that survey, 92 percent of the participants favored investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure – with 93 percent favoring replacing the Town’s 60- to 90-year-old cast iron water mains from the reservoir and water treatment plant.

Eighty seven percent of the POLCO participants said that replacing undersized water mains that do not meet fire code would be a consideration. Improving the sanitary sewer system was on the list, with 78 percent of the respondents favoring that. 

Also high on list for POLCO participants, with 81 percent, was constructing a new treated water storage tank, with a minimum of three days of emergency storage.

Seventy three percent wanted the Town to invest in broadband to ensure consistency in speeds, reliability, and affordability for both residents and businesses. Although 84 percent of the participants in the survey said their broadband service was reliable, approximately only half said it was affordable – with another half saying they were getting the service they were paying for.

Improving the Town’s storm-water management and drainage system for flood control garnered 70 percent. Fifty eight percent said they would like some of the funds to go to provide water and sewer utility bill assistance for families in need.

Grants to Purcellville businesses impacted by the pandemic came in at 48 percent; and 35 percent of participants wanted to spend funds on recovering tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors impacted by COVID. Providing grants to non-profits came in at 29 percent.

Said Mayor Kwasi Fraser after the meeting, “In the last election, the candidates who prevailed ran on a platform of slow growth, low taxes, innovative solutions, and infrastructure development. 

“The survey overwhelmingly supported using the ARPA funds for infrastructure development. 

“I am committed to ensuring this is done with full transparency and accountability. I see this as hard-earned tax dollars returning to our community, and we need to be responsible in how these dollars are invested.”

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