Santa Maria officials plan to spend $ 40 million in US bailout funds | Local News

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Santa Maria officials hope to use $ 40.6 million in one-time federal funds to carry out local energy efficiency projects, reimburse unforeseen costs due to COVID-19 and increase the city’s services through broadband.

The city will receive a first installment of funds as part of the US bailout on May 11 and is expected to receive the remainder in May 2022, according to city manager Jason Stilwell.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, cities must use all funds by December 2024 for efforts that support economic recovery and provide assistance to residents and businesses.

Stilwell said that while the city has multiple projects and costs in the queue that require additional funds, only some can be accomplished within federal constraints.

“We have $ 100 million worth of projects to complete, and the challenge will be knowing which ones meet federal guidelines and which can be completed in a relatively short timeframe,” Stilwell said.

Santa Maria City Council will be asked to approve the receipt of bailout funds at its Tuesday meeting, as well as approve the hiring of temporary, limited-service staff to oversee some of the funded projects.

Officials have not decided on a final list of projects to fund pending more specific guidelines from the federal government. However, there are some key areas that fit the bill.

One use of the money, Stilwell said, could be to expand the city’s private broadband network to increase access to services such as public transport by providing real-time route information. bus and arrival times.

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Additionally, some of the money could be used to cover general administrative costs associated with COVID-19 security, such as purchasing personal protective equipment for city staff and installing devices. protection against germs in city buildings.

The city has also used funds from the CARES Act to cover these costs, which has enabled the on-going move of the city’s finance office from City Hall to a nearby building that better allows for social distancing.

In addition to the immediate needs brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, officials hope to use US bailout dollars for projects that could otherwise be delayed due to lack of funding.

Energy efficiency projects, such as updated cooling, heating and lighting systems and solar roofs in city buildings, as well as the creation of a solar garden, could all benefit from the one-time funding. and reduce city costs in the long run.

“All of the energy projects have all been approved and reviewed by the board. Some have had a longer return on investment than the board wanted, but the payback would be immediate with the use of that stimulus money,” Stilwell said. .

The funds for the US bailout will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Santa Maria City Council, which will be streamed live on the city’s YouTube page at: youtube.com/CityofSantaMariaCalifornia.



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