Dexter City Council Reflects on How to Spend $ 196,000 in First Round of ARPA Funding

Dexter city councilors discussed ways to spend $ 195,706 in American Rescue Plan Act funds the city received this fall at a meeting last week.

Dexter has already allocated $ 32,000 – paired with a $ 50,000 grant – to complete the Spectrum cable project along Zions Hill Road, general manager Trampas King said. About 45 households will benefit from it.

Across Maine, counties, towns, villages and municipalities are deciding – or have already started spending – how to use nearly $ 500 million in federal aid. From new bathrooms and carpeting at Town Hall to walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails, Dexter City Council considered what would most benefit the town and its residents when it comes to life. last meeting on Thursday 9 December.

They did not vote to allocate the remaining $ 163,706.

There are limits to how the funds can be used, King said. Next year, the city will receive another $ 195,706.

He presented a spreadsheet with possible projects the city is pursuing, including city hall renovations estimated at $ 10,000 on the exterior and $ 25,000 on the interior; paving along Golf Course Road, estimated at $ 25,000; hiking trails, estimated at $ 5,000; a water and sewer project for P&L Market, estimated at $ 750,000; and risk premium for employees, estimated at $ 20,000.

Councilors were asked to think about other projects for which there were no estimates, including the Heart of Maine resource center, a community center, and new playground equipment.

“What I would like to see is that a good deal of it is devoted to leisure-related activities… to activities that give young people and children in the city things to do when they are out of school or they need to do distance learning, ”counselor David told Palmer. “The more opportunities we give them, the fewer problems they will have.”

Councilors talked about redeveloping city hall instead of a new community center, renovating outdated bathrooms and making spaces larger and more welcoming, for example. The city makes money by renting space in the building, King said.

Councilor Andrew Bermudez suggested other projects might be better than supporting a new community center, which would have ongoing costs and could later increase taxes.

“We can’t deal with how many buildings we have now,” Bermudez said. “So adding an extra building to a depleted workforce… would be a little silly. Not that we don’t need it, but I think we would need additional resources to deal with it.

Levi Ladd, a new councilor, has offered to increase signage around town. People passing by Dexter to get to Moosehead Lake in Greenville don’t realize the town has shops and attractions, he said.

Neighboring Piscataquis County used some of its ARPA funds to give a bonus to sheriff’s office workers, King said, and now some towns in the region are feeling pressure to do the same for their law enforcement agencies. The city manager is struggling to justify the action unless all city employees are rewarded, he said.

“I am really puzzled as to how Piscataquis [County] did it so quickly and without going to the cities and asking them what they thought about it, ”he said.

Piscataquis County Commissioners voted on Oct. 5 to “donate that much to essential staff per month for the duration of the governor’s declaration of emergency, which ended on June 30,” County Director Michael said on Monday. Williams.

The $ 200 per month from March 2020 to June 2021 went to officials, law enforcement and anyone else deemed essential during the pandemic, as directed by ARPA, he said. Although he could not provide the number of employees who received the salary, some did not receive the full amount of $ 3,200 depending on when their employment began.

At the Dexter city council meeting, members also accepted a grant of $ 32,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration. The grant is to cover costs related to operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitation, janitorial services, controlling the spread of pathogens, and debt service payments at Dexter Regional Airport , in the order councilors voted to approve.

This is the third grant in a series the city has received since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, King said. The first was worth $ 30,000. The second was $ 13,000, he said.

The board approved a three-year contract with Central Maine Pyrotechnics for the annual fireworks display in July 2022-24. The city will donate $ 5,000 to the company each year.

Members voted to name Andrew Bermudez as chair and David Palmer as vice chair.

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