WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJLT) — The Wichita Falls City Council met Tuesday, June 14, 2022, and again combed through the almost $30 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Tuesday, councilors approved a plan on how exactly they could allocate those ARPA funds around the city.
Many see the $29.5 million of ARPA funding coming into the city of Wichita Falls, but few see all the work that goes into divvying that up.
Darron Leiker, City Manager of Wichita Falls, said the process of spreading the money as far as they possibly can while staying within the boundaries set by ARPA has been a tricky task.
“They don’t provide this much money without a lot of strings attached, so it’s been a fairly complicated process,” Leiker said. “So we want to make sure we get it right. The last thing we want to do is use that money inappropriately and have to pay that money back unexpectedly.”
Leiker, the City Council, and the rest of the municipal staff feel like they answered a lot of questions from around the city in Tuesday’s regular session meeting.
“Furthermore it lines up with your strategic plan,” Leiker said. “Everything on that list is mentioned or included on your multi-year strategic plan in some way shape or fashion.”
In Tuesday’s meeting, the Wichita Falls City Council unanimously voted to move forward with a proposed outline for how ARPA funds will be spent.
Over $1 million will be given to local nonprofits, including $250,000 designated for arts and culture nonprofits.
Ann Arnold-Ogden, Executive Director of the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture, said they’re looking forward to working with the city and figuring out an equitable way to distribute the funds to various arts and culture groups in the city.
“We understand that leadership in our city understands the value and importance of the arts and the role it plays not just in our economy, but the quality of life for residents,” Arnold-Ogden said.
The WFAAC estimates a cumulative loss of $420,000 as a direct result of the pandemic.
“Of course, it was devastating when there were no audiences and no people coming in the doors,” Arnold-Ogden said. “So to see the recovery we know we’re going to see, especially these funds from the city of Wichita Falls, it’s just a very exciting moment and we’re looking forward to seeing that recovery and playing a part in our economic recovery of the city.”
District 1 City Councilor Michael Smith said nonprofits like the WFAAC deserve the credit for Wichita Falls surviving the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just don’t know how we would’ve made it, if our city would’ve come through COVID like we did if it weren’t for the work of our nonprofits,” Smith said. “So that’s a big kudos to them.”
A full breakdown of the ARPA plan can be found below:
- Above Current Level Budget Requests — $550,000
- ARPA Grant Accountant 2 YR Fully Loaded — $150,000
- Arts Community Recommendation — $250,000
- Assistance to Non-Profit Organization — $1,500,000
- Contingency/TBD — $1,097,135
- Health Department: NE Hall Restrooms (ADA) — $173,800
- Health Department: Prior Year COVID Contact Tracing — $585,000
- Helen Farabee Center — $100,000
- Memorial Auditorium Renovation — $12,500,000
- MLK Center: Broadband/Connectivity/Public Computers — $65,000
- MPEC: Broadband infrastructure — $110,000
- MPEC: Point of Sale System — $20,000
- Police Department: Overtime/Dispatch (COVID) — $400,000
- Water Department: SCADA Project (previously approved) — $1,400,000
- Downtown Phase 1: Streetscape Street Lamps — $2,000,000
- Fire Department: Payment toward fire apparatus lease ($11M) — $1,500,000
- Fire Department: Personal Protective Equipment and Lockers — $200,000
- Future Capital Infrastructure — $1,225,715
- Lake Wichita Parking Lots — $870,000
- Turf Athletic Complex 1 — $3,300,000
- Future Capital Equipment — $1,095,000