A major development in the nation’s efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March when Congress passed the law known as the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion relief bill that provides a total of $65.1 billion to municipal governments nationwide.
Given the tremendous amount of funding available and the rules attached to its use, questions about how precisely to allocate the funds have abounded ever since the law’s passage. The Municipal Association of SC has information
about the federal guidance available for municipalities.
Rules for the funding will also appear as an important topic of discussion during the Municipal Association’s 2021 Annual Meeting
, taking place July 22 – 24, on Hilton Head Island. The session “American Rescue Plan: ARP from A to Z” is scheduled for Friday, July 23, at 3:30 p.m.
Guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury
explains how the funding may be used, including replacing public-sector revenue loss — calculating losses against pre-pandemic revenue — and seeking funds to help maintain vital governmental services. Other allowable uses include expenditures that address negative economic impacts, such as through small business support and public employee rehiring. Governments can also use funds to provide premium pay for essential workers, a category that includes sanitation and transit workers. Some of the allowable expenditures are specific to infrastructure, such as improvements to water and sewer systems, and projects that improve the availability of broadband internet. Full details of allowable funding are available in the Department of the Treasury’s Interim Final Rule, which can be found through the Municipal Association’s website.
Erica Wright, one of the Association’s legislative and public policy advocates, handles advocacy efforts that involve the federal government, including ARP funding.
“The American Rescue Plan is a massive piece of legislation that touches many facets of government,” Wright said. “Understanding the Coronavirus Local Relief Fund and navigating the allowable uses of ARP funds correctly are critical steps for cities and towns to make sure they use the funds successfully.”
Other Annual Meeting sessions
The ARP session will not be the only session during the Annual Meeting to tackle the issues involved in the ongoing COVID-19 recovery. Here are some other sessions addressing related issues:
- Attracting the Remote Workforce Post-Pandemic – The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that employees can work effectively outside of an office. This session will discuss strategies for making a city appealing for high-earning remote workers.
- Broadband Is No Longer a Luxury – It's a Necessity – Remote work and remote education during the pandemic have dramatically illustrated the degree to which broadband internet access has become a critical service. This session will address South Carolina’s plan to expand broadband into underserved areas, and how municipalities like the City of Newberry are working to make affordable high-speed broadband services available.
- Between the Lines: Redistricting and Your Budget – Learn about how delays in the 2020 Census data, experienced in part because of the pandemic, may affect municipal elections, and what cities and towns can plan for redistricting.
Other Annual Meeting sessions will address community change, crisis communication, compliance with the State Ethics Act and the SC Business License Standardization Act
, which requires all cities and towns with a business license tax to comply with its requirements by January 1, 2022.
Find more details and agenda information about the Annual Meeting online. All meeting registrations must be complete by July 12.