Meriden OK Council ARPA Funding for Workforce Development Program

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MERIDEN — City Council voted this week to authorize federal COVID-19 relief funds to launch a three-year workforce development program offered by United Way of Meriden and Wallingford and support the efforts of the Meriden Historical Society to repair its recently acquired building at 39-41 Main Street West.

The Board approved the allocation of $664,526 in funding for United Way’s “Support Services to Advancing Meriden Workforce” proposal. The money would fully fund the program at $332,266 for the first year and $166,132, or 50%, for the following two years.

According to United Way executives, the overall workforce program will cost the agency about $1.05 million. The program aims to connect unemployed and underemployed Meriden residents to resources such as education, job training, employment and other services, including transportation and child care, to help residents to access these resources.

The agency had requested $996,789 to fully fund its request. The U.S. plan’s bailout steering committee, which reviewed the request a week before the board meeting, voted to allow a reduced funding request. Members of the steering committee at the time of this vote said that United Way would have the opportunity to present its request to the committee at a later date for additional funds.

On Monday evening, discussion of the request, during public comments and among board members, largely depended on the beneficiaries of the program.

Councilor Michael Carabetta asked: “Is there any way of knowing that this investment will only stay in Meriden? »

Mayor Kevin Scarpati said he believes City Manager Tim Coon posed this question to United Way Director Maria Campos Harlow at the previous meeting. The response the committee received, according to Scarpati, was that United Way would facilitate the Meriden and Wallingford programs separately.

Scarpati said that for the audit process, the organization would have to release information to “safeguard the fact that only residents of Meriden benefited from these funds”.

During public comments, at least one resident raised the question of whether the United Way would also seek funding from Wallingford.

During the Board’s deliberations, the matter was briefly discussed.

Councilor Sony Jelks, the majority leader, said: “There is no fear that these funds will not benefit the residents of Meriden.

Scarpati addressed the Wallingford issue directly.

“I know the United Way intends to make a similar appeal to the town of Wallingford,” Scarpati said, noting, however, that Wallingford is “much further behind” in its ARPA funding disbursement process than Meriden.

The city, Scarpati noted, had only recently hired a consultant and is not even in the bidding phase. Wallingford’s total ARPA funding of about $13 million, Scarpati noted, is significantly lower than Meriden’s funding total.

“I think it’s unfair to assume there would be a dollar-for-dollar match,” the mayor said. “They don’t serve as many people in Wallingford.”

Scarpati said he was comfortable moving forward with the proposal.

In addition to approving funding for the program, the council agreed to fund the Meriden Historical Society’s request for $79,220 to repair the back wall of its West Main Street home.

No board member voted against any of the funding requests. Councilor Michael Rohde abstained in both votes.

The two allocations bring the total amount of American Rescue Plan Act funds so far committed by the city to about $17.8 million, according to a reporter’s calculation. The city’s total ARPA allocation, excluding Board of Education funds, is approximately $36.3 million.

Journalist Michael Gagné can be reached at [email protected]

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