Little Rock Board of Directors updated on ARPA funds
During the Little Rock City Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, Emily Cox, assistant city manager, requested approval from city directors to allocate around $500,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to be used for disaster relief assistance.
In 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden. As part of the law, money was given to local governments as a way to help them make up for the loss in tax revenue that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cox said Congress passed a law last year that allows ARPA funding to be used for disaster relief. She said the money would be used to pay the 25% match required by FEMA. The Board will vote next week on whether to approve this request.
During the debt ceiling negotiations between President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, both parties have shown an interest in clawbacking unused ARPA funds. City Director Dean Kumpuris expressed concerns about that with City Manager Bruce Moore, who said the city is prepared if that situation were to happen.
“Obviously, we have federal lobbyists that are watching that for us,” Moore said. “I feel very confident that if that were to happen I would ask the Board to move quickly and have a plan to protect our funding.”
Directors Dean Kumpuris and Capi Peck shared concerns with Moore about looting. They said there is looting taking place in areas of the city that were affected by the tornado that happened in March. Peck said she is concerned the issue isn’t going away.
“I get phone calls every single day about something that has been stolen and [Police] Chief [Heath] Helton did tell me today that this is going to be an ongoing problem, especially when construction starts again,” she said.
Kumpuris asked if funding from FEMA or from the American Rescue Plan Act could be used to help put security guards in areas where the looting is taking place. Moore said he would look into what the city can do with existing staff and resources.