WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — After so much financial struggle the last few years during the pandemic, the city of Wichita Falls is looking at a lump sum of money they aren’t used to, thanks to $29.1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We want that community input when it comes to ARPA money. You know it’s a big chunk of change and there’s a lot of good things that’s going to happen with that money,” Mayor Stephen Santellana said.

While a huge number, more than $18 million appropriated to ARPA requirements, which include $250,000 into local arts, and $1.5 million in local non-profits, something high on the list for District 1 Councilor Michael Smith.

“We can help them stabilize financially before they put it in gear for the future in doing things the city can’t do,” Smith said, “This is, I guess, the best shot we have at doing good for some of these organizations.”

That also include potentially $12.5 million into the Memorial Auditorium building and city hall improvements.

On the flip side, city staff now is looking at about $10 million to work with, and more than $68 million in other identified needs.

But with so many options, time is ticking on narrowing that list down as money has to be committed by 2024 and spent by 2026.

“Some of that money expires, it needs to be spent by a certain time so dragging it out won’t help some of those projects,” Santellana said. “If that money needs to be spent in the next 24 months we need to go ahead and get that money appropriated, get contracts out and get the job going.”

But that list of potential projects really just keeps going: downtown street lights, Lake Wichita parking lot, fire station remodels and rebuilds, police station headquarters remodeling, water improvements, and on and on.

“Where thought we had a lot of time. We waited to make sure we are going to spend this money appropriately. Now we’re kind of starting to get under the crunch of let’s go ahead and start making decisions so we can get this money allocated and start doing good with it,” Santellana said.

Plenty of good to do, with the city hopeful there’s enough money to go around.

For more on how you can fill out one of those input forms, just click here.