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The original item was published from 2/24/2023 10:46:00 AM to 2/24/2023 10:55:55 AM.

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Posted on: February 24, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Appropriation of ARPA Funds by the Milton Selectboard

At the Selectboard meeting on February 21, 2023, the Milton Selectboard passed a resolution outlining how ARPA funds received by the Town of Milton will be appropriated. 

Background

Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in 2021 to address the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Relief funds were distributed to eligible cities, towns and villages based on a formula established in ARPA, and the Town of Milton received ARPA funds totaling $3,237,504.22. Federal and state guidelines allow Towns to distribute funds at their own discretion, and the Milton Selectboard has been committed to investing one-time ARPA funds to get the greatest long-term benefit for the community. 

Summary of Process

At the Selectboard meeting on July 5, 2022, the Milton Selectboard adopted a process to provide an objective and transparent format to compare possible uses for the funds, and to encourage individuals and organizations outside of the Town to present ideas. At the time, the Selectboard had appropriated/encumbered $1,049,553.00 – with funds committed to the new public works facility, rescue chief position, and funding a number of capital purchases. This left $2,187,951.22 remaining to be appropriated/encumbered. 

Outside entities seeking funds were asked to complete and submit an application by a deadline of October 3, 2022. Departments and committees within the Town also submitted proposals for project funding. The Selectboard received 13 applications from outside entities, with funding requests totaling $1,802,101, as well as 18 applications from Town departments/committees, with funding requests totaling $5,658,644. On November 7, 2022, a public review of the applications was held as part of a regular Selectboard Meeting, during which applicants were given the opportunity to address the Selectboard regarding their applications and to respond to questions. Each Selectboard member reviewed every application and scored them independently based on a rubric. The total scores were tallied, and the applicants were ranked in order of their consolidated scores. The Selectboard used this ranked list as a guide to deliberate and decide on the use of the remaining funds.

When this process began, the Selectboard planned to announce decisions on how ARPA funds would be distributed before the Town budgeting process began in late November 2022. However, outstanding issues delayed this decision. 

  1. First, the Town was involved with a settlement agreement that first required the Selectboard to form a committee (the Committee for Evaluating Suitability of Existing Town Property and 10-Acre Parcel Owned by the Brault Family Trust for a Multipurpose Recreation Facility) to determine if the Town needed to purchase additional land. The Committee came back with a recommendation to purchase the property in question. As a result of this recommendation, the Selectboard delayed making a decision on how ARPA funds would be distributed, in case it would need to be used toward the purchase of the land. 

    Since that time, the Town has been negotiating with the adjoining property owner to purchase the parcel of land. At the Selectboard meeting on February 6, 2023, the Town was able to agree on a sale price to purchase 3.9 acres of the property adjoining Bombardier Park at $500,000. ARPA funds will be used for this purchase.

  2. The other outstanding issue that delayed a decision regarding ARPA was the revised projected cost to build the public works facility, which has been increasing due to industry-wide rising in construction costs for both labor and materials. The goal all along has been to raise the necessary funds to build the facility without going back to the taxpayer for additional resources. It was known that building the infrastructure (water, sewer, electricity and roadway) from Bombardier Road to the building site of the new facility would be a significant cost driver. In addition, it was widely known that this infrastructure would serve the entire Brault property creating future economic development opportunity for the Town. The Selectboard previously appropriated $350,000 toward the infrastructure for the project. Today, facing the increasing shortfall in needed funds to complete this project, the Selectboard has decided to invest an additional $700,000.00 for the expansion of infrastructure to serve lots #1, 2 and 3 of the Brault property. With future modifications to the water, sewer and impact fee ordinances, the Town may be able to recoup these funds from connection and other associated fees on this property as it is developed later. 

Decision on Distribution of Funds

The Selectboard appropriated $604,760.05 of the ARPA money to stabilize property taxes by investing in capital projects, such as outreach services, interim staffing costs, a server replacement, HVAC equipment, a tandem dump truck, a police cruiser, a fire truck and a self-contained breathing apparatus filling station for the fire department. These investments will help keep the tax rate down for years to come. 

After many twists and turns, appropriation of the remaining funds are to be utilized as the Selectboard had stated very early in the process. That is by investing one-time ARPA funds to get the greatest long-term benefit for the community. The nearly two and a quarter million dollars will be invested in real estate (the Grange Hall and a 3.9 acre portion of lot #3 Brault property), a feasibility study for a future multi-purpose recreational facility, the construction of infrastructure (water, sewer, electric and roads for the public works facility), renovations to Town property (the Grange Hall, the museum, Town offices), storm water utility related expenses (ordinance creation and projects), economic development projects (Downtown core grant, creamery clean-up, redevelopment of the Town Forest trail, and the Inclusion Festival) and improvements to Bombardier Park.

Statement from the Selectboard

ARPA provided the Town with a unique and wonderful opportunity to invest significant one-time funds that would provide long-term benefits for the community. The Selectboard has not wavered in our commitment to this goal, and we have treated the decision for how to use these funds as a significant responsibility. 

When this extensive process began, the Selectboard had no outside guidance, but we knew we wanted to get public input. We are grateful that so many put forth the effort to make applications for these funds. Having gone through this process, we better understand the public’s desire in the community for more recreation, more open space and for a commitment to downtown and economic growth in the community. Even though we ultimately could not fund all of the projects submitted, we are committed to exploring ways to keep the Town moving forward in these efforts. This might include finding ways for the Town to provide financial assistance for these types of activities. 

Again, we want to thank the public for your participation and for your patience with this process. We believe we have made decisions that will leave a lasting legacy for the Town while also providing tax savings for residents, and we look forward to seeing the future growth and development of the Milton community. 

Milton’s Selectboard: Darren Adams (Chair), Michael Morgan (Vice-Chair), John FitzGerald (Clerk), Bready Steady, Chris Taylor


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