HUDSON – The Hudson Select Board voted 5-0 earlier this month to authorize an updated funding plan for the approximately $5.9 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation of the city.
The money will go towards a range of infrastructure projects, among other things, capping an allocation process that saw several points of community outreach from city officials to assess funding priorities.
Plan divided between phase 1 and phase 2
The Select Board already last year approved a “Phase 1” plan for $3.9 million in ARPA money.
Executive assistant Thomas Gregory most recently detailed a Phase 2 plan in a proposal to the select committee on April 11.
This plan follows a series of public listening sessions as well as a review of funding proposals from city department heads to assess the city’s priorities.
“Residents expressed a variety of comments related to public health and safety, green energy initiatives, improving the efficiency and transparency of municipal operations, and providing resources to those most affected. most affected by the pandemic,” Gregory wrote of public comment in his Phase 2 proposal.
Phase 1 scored dollars for a variety of projects and purchases:
- $639,230 – Public Health Services / COVID Response
- $1,400,000 – Culvert replacement – Main and Houghton streets
- $1,000,000 – Wastewater Treatment Plant Phase 2 Upgrades
- $55,000 – Stormwater improvements – Green and Florence streets
- $25,000 – Mental Health Programs / Council on Aging
- $750,000 – Fire Engine
- $61,100 – Fire Command Vehicle
Phase 2 now allocates an additional $2 million for new efforts:
- $645,000 – HVAC Improvements – Mulready and Forest Ave
- $278,975 – Acquisition / implementation of electronic permit software
- $308,158 – Library improvements
- $150,000 – Culvert replacement – Chestnut and Main streets
- $325,000 – Improvements to parks and playgrounds
- $15,190 – AEDs and Police First Responder Kits
- $284,832 – unencumbered/administrative costs (consultant)
According to Gregory, HVAC upgrades at Mulready and Forest Avenue Elementary Schools will involve replacing “uninvented decades-old ventilation systems” to improve clean air circulation and efficiency in buildings.
Money for software will implement a new e-permit program across all departments. This will include digitizing paper records, Gregory continued.
The library funding will augment the Hudson Public Library Services and Technology plan.
The Chestnut and Main Street culvert project, meanwhile, involves a 72-year-old structure that recently forced a road closure due to continued deterioration. Without ARPA money, Hudson would have to wait until the 2023 annual municipal meeting to fund the repairs, Gregory wrote.
Money from parks and playgrounds will make improvements to Moulton Field Playground, Wood Park and Apsley Park, while the $284,832 allocation for consultant fees will help pay for a consultant hired by the city to ensure the compliance with federal ARPA reporting guidelines.
The DEA money will allow automatic external defibrillators and first responder kits to be installed in police vehicles that do not already have such resources.
Selected counsel reviewed the motion for further consideration
The select committee’s eventual vote to approve these ARPA recommendations came after a motion to send the funding proposal back for further review failed by a 3-2 margin.
Board member Shawn Sadowski introduced this motion, asking that an additional review process look at ways to award additional compensation to essential staff who have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would like the city to see if we can do something for our essential personnel and our first responders,” Sadowski said.
Sadowski said there should be a threshold set for essential staff to qualify for this compensation.
Gregory pointed out that ARPA’s definition of essential workers is very broad, noting that it is not limited to public employees.
“The potential problem that could arise is that if the city votes to give a bonus to some of its employees, it could elicit a response from the community at large,” he said.
Board Chairman Scott Duplisea said he supports whatever the city can to help essential staff during the pandemic, but said it would be impractical to retroactively determine who would and would not be. not eligible for this compensation.
“For me, it’s a really good idea to talk about, I just don’t think it’s feasible,” Duplisea said.
Duplisea also said figuring out how much money to allocate and who to allocate it to would be a monumental task to entrust to Gregory.
Some board members, Sadowski and James Quinn, voted in favor of this additional review, while the other three members voted “no”.
The full set of ARPA funding recommendations, which have now been approved, can be viewed online by visiting https://go.boarddocs.com/ma/hudsonma/Board.nsf/files/CDDQHF69003F/$file/Memo%20to%20SB%20-%20ARPA%20Recommendations%20040822.pdf.
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