Early Kettering plan for $13.8M in ARPA funds heavy on capital projects, equipment

KETTERING — The Kettering city manager has proposed using the vast majority of the $13.8 million the city expects to receive in American Rescue Plan Act funds on capital equipment and projects.

City Manager Mark Schwieterman’s plan to use federal relief from the coronavirus includes:

•44% for capital improvement projects;

•27% on capital equipment;

•17% for existing community programs;

•12% on ARPA community programs.

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Kettering’s administrative staff is determining specific items within the four funding groups and expects the package to go before city council this fall, officials said.

“We are taking our time and evaluating different scenarios to ensure that we are making the absolute best use of these funds for the community,” Schwieterman said late last week.

Earlier this month, Schwieterman said the proposal he outlined to city council “allows us to be less restrictive in the uses of the funds” because Kettering officials believe the city meets “the revenue loss qualifications of ARPA.”

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Business shutdowns and job losses from COVID-19 restrictions have cost the city millions in income tax money, which accounts for about 79% of Kettering general fund revenues.

“If we didn’t have that revenue loss qualification,” Schwieterman told council, “we’d be talking about a different program structure.”

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ARPA, a $130 billion federal COVID-19 relief plan for local governments, was signed earlier this year by President Joe Biden. Kettering has received $6.92 million in those funds and expects to get a similar amount in the future.

Other local cities receiving rescue plan funding include Dayton, Fairborn and Springfield, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

The money can be used in a variety of ways, federal records show. But the deadline to spend it is Dec. 31, 2024, Schwieterman said.

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It can also be encumbered by that date if it is spent by the end of 2026, he added.

“The biggest restriction I believe is not going to be how we use it,” Schwieterman said. “It’s going to be by when do we use it.”

Kettering Mayor Don Patterson acknowledged that being able to spend a higher percentage of ARPA money on community programs by federal deadlines would be difficult.

Those programs — hunger, mental health, home repair and demolition among them, Schwieterman said — would receive about $4.7 million and could be supplemented with general fund monies.

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Because of the federal restrictions and deadlines for rescue plan funds, Schwieterman said the better option would be spend a higher percentage of it on “large scale capital equipment.”

“We’re not going to buy police cruisers. We’re going to buy ladder trucks, fire engines, medics,” he said.

That type of equipment was part of the city’s COVID-19 budget cuts, he added.

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