The City of Beatrice has roughly $3.3 million to allocate for local projects across the community, due to federal funding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city council discussed the restrictions on the funds and potential projects during their work session Monday evening.
City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said the city received roughly $1.1 million in CARES, or Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act funding.
“When looking at what items to propose funding with CARES dollars, we looked for items that had been in the budget for a number of years but remained unfunded,” Tempelmeyer said. “We looked for items that allowed us not to have issues with public safety debts this next year, which will allow us to keep our property tax levy lower, and we looked for items that concerned public safety.”
Potential projects include installing a generator at City Hall, purchasing two Police Department administration vehicles, purchasing handguns for sworn officers, making upgrades to the firearm range, purchasing two police department marked patrol vehicles, purchasing two Brazos E crash software that connects to e-tickets and accident reports, expanding the 911 Communication Center, purchasing an additional console for the 911 Communications Center, purchasing a self-contained breathing apparatus, and purchasing a Fire Department rescue truck to replace the 1997 truck.
Tempelmeyer noted that the potential project costs total roughly $837,000.
“What we’re proposing will leave about $200,000 in our cash reserves for the next emergency,” Tempelmeyer said. “We know at some point, something is going to happen, and we’re proposing we leave additional funds for the next rainy day that occurs.”
Council member Bob Morgan said he thinks the list of projects looks reasonable.
“We’re talking about spending $837,000 of this fund, and it is all for purposes that are extremely needed, warranted, positive, and part of public safety,” Mayor Stan Wirth said.
Tempelmeyer said the city will also receive two payments of $1.1 million each in American Rescue Plan Act funds. He said compared to the CARES Act, ARPA has many rules and regulations on what the money can be used for.
“ARPA has four categories that are eligible. It has to refund the public health and emergency, or its negative economic impacts, or it has to respond to workers performing essential work, or it has to be for provision of government services to extend further reduction of revenue,” Tempelmeyer said. “And/or for number four, it has to make necessary investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.”
Possible ARPA projects include storm water improvements along 19th Street, improving the HVAC system at the City Auditorium, doing storm water drainage studies, the creation of a storm water retention pond, improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Facility, improvements to the Wastewater Lift Stations, installing Fiber between city facilities, and repairs to existing sanitary sewer lines.
Tempelmeyer said the funds have to be obligated by Dec. 21, 2024, meaning the council members have time to decide the project. He reiterated that the projects are just ideas, and that more research will have to be done to make sure they are eligible for ARPA funds.
“I think the storm water improvements along 19th Street is important,” Wirth said. “It’s been that way for a long time.”