Fairborn forum aims for more input on spending $6.8M in ARPA funds



FAIRBORN — How to spend Fairborn’s $6.8 million in federal funds will be the focus of a forum Thursday as the city seeks to prioritize plans for the money.

The 6 p.m. town hall at First Presbyterian Church follows a survey showing more half of the respondents favor using the American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for infrastructure and community support services.

Those projects could include improvements to broadband internet, and water and sewer systems, as well as helping small businesses, nonprofits and households, according to the city’s online poll.

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“There’s probably going to be some nonprofit organization support, there’s probably going to be some stormwater work,” Fairborn Mayor Paul Keller said.

“Those types of things fit within the guidelines,” he added. “I don’t want to start naming projects because I don’t want to condition anybody’s input. I want to see what the citizens say.”

More than 55% of the nearly 750 survey respondents so far have expressed support for spending Fairborn ARPA money on infrastructure and community support services, results Wednesday afternoon showed.

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Fewer than a third who have taken the poll offered suggestions for funding specific projects or groups. Those ranged from Little League programs and small businesses, restaurants and downtown improvements to aiding road repair, senior citizens and recovering addicts.

The ARPA funds must be spent on addressing issues impacted by COVID-19, guidelines state. They can be used in a variety of ways, including grants to local businesses or workers in essential jobs.

The city has not sought formal applications, Keller said. And Fairborn officials said they would not commit to specific projects until the community had ample time for input.

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Spending decisions will come in the weeks ahead as Fairborn must appropriate the funds in April, City Manager Rob Anderson said.

“We have several nonprofits that are asking for funds. We would dedicate a pool of money for those groups,” Anderson said.

“We have some businesses asking for some funds. We’d probably dedicate a pool of money for those groups,” he added. “Then we’ll have some project-specific funding. But we haven’t narrowed that list yet to what those will be.”

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Keller said he encourages residents to show up Thursday night at the church at 1130 Highview Drive.

“We’re trying very hard to open this up to the citizens and say ‘We are getting this money. It does come with strings attached ... with guidelines. But give us your ideas.’ We don’t claim to have all of the good ideas,” he said.

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