City council to fund homeless services, Cooper Park renovations in full ARPA allocations

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Last month, a Springfield city council committee outlined an initial allocation for the city's $40 million in emergency federal ARPA aid, including millions of funding for homeless services and Cooper Park renovations.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March. More than $673 billion of those funds were set aside for state and local governments. In August, the city accepted its first installment of their total $40 million.

The city has already approved a $6.5 million ARPA expenditure on police, fire and city healthcare worker retention payments, who will each receive $6,000 total over the next three years.

Council also originally set aside $8 million for the Springfield Greene County Health Department, but councilmembers said last month they were likely to lower that to $3 million.

More: Greene County awards nearly $23 million in coronavirus ARPA aid, half of its federal funds

"We wanted to make sure that we never got to a point where we weren't able to have adequate resources," Councilman Matthew Simpson said at the meeting. "But the health department has continued to excel in getting federal grant funding to fund those (COVID) efforts. So we have not had to touch that 8 million yet."

Those previous allocations notwithstanding, the council committee outlined their vision for a total ARPA allocation.

The recommendations are:

  • $7.3M Cooper Park renovation

  • $500,000 Jordan Creek renewal

  • $750,000 Missouri State University

  • $750,000 Ozarks Technical College

  • $50,000 Discovery Center

  • $250,000 Fairgrounds (tentative; unsure if included in final total)

  • $500,000 Library system

  • $2M Boys & Girls Club

  • $7M Homeless services

  • $500,000 Housing study

  • $1M Restore SGF

  • $3M Art Museum

  • $3M Ozark Greenways

  • $4M Historic City Hall renovations

  • $100,000 Burrell 24/7 mental health hotline

  • $3M Contingency reserve fund

Many of these allocations are based on providing matching funds for projects allocated from the state legislature, which was complicated by the governor's recent veto of funds for several of those projects.

This included $7.5 million of state ARPA money toward the Jordan Creek renewal and $5 million to repair the historic Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, which the city did not allocate their own money toward because of the state's initial allocation.

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In a statement, Mayor Ken McClure said the city would pursue "every available alternative" to fund the vetoed projects.

"We are pleased with the news that many important Springfield projects will receive funding from the state of Missouri and are grateful for the Governor’s support. Our local colleagues in Jefferson City have been very helpful this legislative session and we greatly appreciate it," McClure said.

During the city's ARPA allocation process, councilmembers received hundreds of millions of dollars of requests. At last month's meeting, subcommittee chair Matthew Simpson stressed their decision not to fund some projects was not a reflection on their quality or importance to the community.

"Funding is not a reflection on whether it's a good project. It's just a recognition that there's limited money and there's not enough to fund everything," he said — noting there will be state applications for additional ARPA funds.

"There are additional rounds of state funding that will be occurring through competitive applications. Some of those already opened."

The chosen projects must still pass through the full city council and may be subject to further change.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: City council to fund homeless services, Cooper Park renovations in ARPA plan