WESTFORD — Westford is expecting a second round of American Rescue Plan Act funding this summer, and residents and organizations are wondering how they can tap into funding.
ARPA funding was first allocated to Westford in August of last year. The town received its first round of federal funding to replace lost revenue, invest in infrastructure such as water and broadband and support the health and economic well-being of the community. The first round totaled $3,708,985.42
This funding differs from other federal grants since the town does not need to submit a request for reimbursement. Rather, the town can allocate its funding directly, as long as it meets the Department of the Treasury’s requirements. Once the Select Board votes to allocate the funding, the funding can be used, according to Westford Town Accountant Jesse Beyer.
Of the approximately $3.7 million in funding, the town has used $2,502,861 of its first round of funding. The town’s largest expenses included replacing lost revenue in the Recreation Department and the Other Post-Employment Benefits Trust Fund as well as increasing fire department staffing. The total of these expenses accounted for approximately over 40%, or $1,278,351 of Westford’s current ARPA funding.
The town has allocated a portion of its funding toward hiring contact tracers, increasing hours for the town’s public health nurse through June 2023 and hiring an additional full-time districtwide nurse. On these initiatives, the town has used $108,050 in funding.
Westford has also invested into its mental health resources, hiring a Community Wellness Coordinator, establishing a Mobile Mental Health and Wellness Clinician and contracting the William James Interface Mental Health Referral Service. These positions are budgeted at $150,000 and $45,000 respectively, with the referral service at $34,500.
Other large projects, such as the construction of a new fire training facility, are funded in-part through ARPA funds. The current facility at 35 Town Farm Rd. is slated to be transitioned to senior housing and a home for the food pantry.
On Jan 25. meeting, the Select Board unanimously approved $580,000 in spending for the new facility. In a 4-1 vote, the board approved $237,000 in ARPA funding to cover a portion of the project’s total of $817,000.
Additional funding has been allocated toward Abbot Elementary School accessibility upgrades, de-escalation training for elementary principal aides, Blanchard Middle School wastewater treatment plant tank rehabilitation and elementary math interventionists. These projects cost $132,000 in funding.
$78,000 in funding was used for townwide subscriptions and an additional $31,635 was allocated to WestfordCAT for equipment upgrades and meeting and sports coverage. $12,865 of funding was used to purchase Westford’s new electronic vote tabulators for Town Meeting.
The town has also used $98,000 to fund rental, insurance and internet access assistance programs for struggling families. Remaining funding was used to protect water utility assets, library staging setups and replacing lost funding from the East Boston Camps Revolving Fund and Fields Maintenance Revolving Fund.
As of April 13, the town has a remaining balance of $1,206,124.42. The town expects to receive its second and final disbursement of $3,708,985.42 this summer.
Departments and nonprofits can submit requests for funding through the Town Manager’s office. Requests must include a description of the project, the funding that is requested and how the project relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nonprofits can apply the same way everyone else applies,” said Town Manager Jodi Ross in a phone call to WestfordCAT.
She continued, “they have to put in the requests to our finance director.”
Ross clarified that there is no “quick deadline,” and that the town is expecting another round of funding this summer.
Departments and nonprofits looking to request funding should use this spreadsheet as a guide during their application.
Local journalism is vital to our communities. As other publications shift focus toward regional journalism, WestfordCAT continues to provide high-quality hyperlocal reporting to our town, free for everyone to read. So — we have a small favor to ask. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, helps us sustain our journalism and keep our community informed. Please consider supporting WestfordCAT for as little as $1 on PayPal.