By John Mancini, Chair, Killingworth Economic Recovery Committee.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every part of life: social distancing has become a necessity, businesses have to adjust to new health and safety protocols, schools have to balance remote and hybrid teaching models, travel is reduced, and there is a reduction in workforce. During this time, federal, state, and local governments responded to community needs by reallocating money from their general funds to expand assistance to communities. On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law. This ARPA established Fiscal Recovery Funds, which are intended to provide support to state and local governments in responding to the impact of COVID-19. Under this Act, Killingworth will receive approximately $1.8 million.
Killingworth has the flexibility to determine, as a town, how best to use the payments it will receive under the ARPA to meet the needs of the community and population. As such, the Killingworth Board of Selectmen voted on July 12, 2021, to establish the Economic Recovery Committee (ERC): a bipartisan committee that has been charged with analyzing Killingworth’s economic, social, and health needs resulting from the pandemic. This Committee will convene monthly to discuss recommendations for the allocation of these funds, which will be presented to the Board of Selectmen and ultimately be put to a town vote. All funds must be obligated by December 31, 2024.
While the ERC is continuing to review the ARPA to determine any limitations there may be on spending and all rules and processes surrounding the appropriation of these funds, we do know, in very broad terms, that this funding can be used to cover costs associated with:
- Support public health response.
- Address negative economic impacts including, but not limited to, offering assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, as well as aid to affected industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.
- Make needed investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
- Support of government services.
The ERC will be holding a town hall on January 19, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. at the Killingworth Volunteer Fire House (361 Route 81), wherein the ERC will discuss the funding received by the town, possible spending opportunities, and the role of the ERC. While public comment will be welcome at the town hall, the ERC also encourages residents to provide input and suggestions for this spending based upon individual impressions of community impact and needs following the COVID-19 pandemic. Comments/suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
and should be submitted no later than February 18, 2022, to ensure timely review.
Please note that ERC communications are not intended to serve as a promise or binding contract between the ERC and the groups/individuals that participate in the town hall and/or that email the ERC. The ERC is simply looking to obtain public input on the town impression of our community needs so that we can best represent the town and advise the Board of Selectmen accordingly regarding the proposed expenditure of these funds.