Forest Grove to receive $5.2 million in ARP aid
Relief is coming for Forest Grove, said Mayor Pete Truax of the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The $1.9 trillion economic relief package was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in early March. Among the relief it provides is direct assistance to cities, including Forest Grove, where local officials estimate about $5.2 million to come from the legislation over a two-year period.
Truax spoke to the help that ARP will provide people nationwide, but also specifically spoke to the benefit Forest Grove will see from the federal aid.
"It means that we can get well on some of the things that we spent down to help out other people during the pandemic, as essential government services," he said. "In our area, that might include Forest Grove Light & Power, which allowed people to hold off paying their bills. This doesn't forgive those payments, but it allows us to recoup lost revenue."
The first of two money distributions will arrive in roughly 90 days, with the second arriving a year later.
Funds can be designated in the following ways:
• Responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency
• Providing premium pay to essential workers
• Offsetting lost revenues to provide essential government services
• For water, sewer and broadband infrastructure
Funds can not be used to reduce taxes by legislation, regulation or administration, nor for deposits in pension funds. Forest Grove officials will be reviewing potential and eligible uses and determining the best possible expenditures, which will then be presented as part of the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2021-22, set to be reviewed and approved this coming May.
The American Rescue Plan also includes funding for vaccination programs, stimulus payments of up to $1,400 per adult, and expanded or extended benefits.
Truax said that while he's excited for and encouraged about the federal aid, it's important to remember that there's still work to be done for the city and country to move beyond the effects of the ongoing pandemic.
"Suffice to say, this is not a cure-all, and we are not out of the woods yet," Truax said. "There are still many of us who need to be vaccinated; we still need to wear the mask; we still need to practice social distancing, and; we still need to wash our hands. If we want to move beyond this, if we want our kids back in school, if we want to greet and meet our friends and loved ones, then we all need to work together."
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