LYNNWOOD, Wash., July 22, 2021 – The Lynnwood City Council discussed possible uses for federal funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, during their first in person work session on July 19 after months of Zoom meetings. The City of Lynnwood has been allocated $10.9 million from ARPA and has already received $5.45 million of that $10.9 million.
Perhaps due to it only being the second session back in person, the meeting did have some technical difficulties integrating Zoom, particularly sound for the livestream and recording. This unfortunately meant that essentially all of Director of Finance Michelle Meyer’s ARPA presentation was inaudible. Some of her answers during questioning with the council could be partially heard, as the audio likely bleed over from the council’s live microphones.
ARPA funding can be used to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, restore public sector capacity to pre-pandemic levels, address negative economic issues, replace lost city revenue, provide expanded services up to the amount of lost revenue, and for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
There are currently no set plans for the funds, though there were recommendations from city staff, presented by Meyer, on areas to spend it. Several council members expressed concerns about how to properly allocate the money and that further discussion was needed.
“I hope that we can collaborate and work together to look at what we can do for our community,” Councilmember Julieta Altamirano-Crosby said.
Councilmember Jim Smith inquired with Meyer about city revenue and if it had returned to pre-pandemic levels. Meyer confirmed that most areas of revenue have recovered.
“I’m looking at this ‘restoring levels of some of our personnel,’ but if we have the revenues that are already coming in, I don’t know that we need to be spending the rescue funds on this,” Smith said. “It’s just questionable about that.”
Meyer said an audit was still ongoing and that the report would be presented to the finance committee shortly, followed by the full council.
“[The City of Edmonds] decided to spend 90% of the funds on the community, not on city operations,” Councilmember George Hurst said. “They are willing to provide grants to households who are in need. They are looking at funding re-education as far as employment retraining… Edmonds is very liberal as far as their spending, but I think we need to think about—what do we want to do with this?”
Hurst also mentioned a desire to provide additional business grants to assist in economic recovery.
“I think that you never get a better return than in education, continuing education and skills training,” Councilmember Patrick Decker said. “So let’s look at how we can invest portions of this in improving education opportunities or skills retraining opportunities.”
Meyer’s presentation included a timeline for ARPA over the next 5 years, so there is time for the council to discuss and disperse the federal funds.