Federal funding was provided to area governments to help mitigate problems associated with the COVID Pandemic.
Gardner used its initial funds to first address the spread of the pandemic and plans to use its remaining funds towards sewer infrastructure that benefits the entire community, according to Matt Wolff, finance director.
Exactly what sewer project is not yet decided.
“It has not yet been determined which specific project/projects the ARPA grants funds will go towards,” Wolff said. The city is in the process of evaluating different approaches to increasing sewer system capacity. The selected approach and the availability of other grant funds will help determine which sewer infrastructure projects the ARPA funds are applied to.
Funds to provide assistance to residents and businesses were provided by the federal government, State of Kansas and Johnson County.
They initiated programs using COVID funds to provide assistance directly to residents and businesses. “Those entities are better suited to implementing those types of programs due to having existing programs that provide similar benefits,” Wolff said.
Gardner received the following grant funds, according to Wolff.
• In 2020, the city received $653,361.70 in CARES Grant reimbursements for expenses related to COVID. This was used for a wide range of CARES eligible expenditures (technology, sanitation equipment, personal protective equipment, public safety, etc.).
• On Nov. 4, 2020, the city received $30,000 in CARES/FAA grant reimbursements for the Gardner Municipal Airport. This was used towards debt service.
• On Nov. 3, 2021, Gardner received $32,000 in ARPA Rescue grant reimbursements for the Gardner Municipal Airport. This was used towards debt service.
• On Nov. 3, 2021, the city received $13,000 in Airport Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act grant funds for the Gardner Municipal Airport. This was used towards debt service and utility bills.
• In 2021, Gardner received $1,681,066.11 in ARPA funds and will receive another $1,681,066 in July of 2022.
“This money is being held in a special revenue fund until we receive all of the funds (a total of $3,362,132 over two tranches),” Wolff said. “Early direction from the city council indicated they plan to use it for sewer infrastructure. By investing in our infrastructure, the city is using the funds for the benefit of all residents and local businesses.”
The Final Rule governing the use of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, allows municipalities to use a standard allowance of up to $10 million for the revenue loss category as an alternative to the previous revenue loss calculation formula., Wolff said. “The city intends to use this standard allowance for its share of the ARPA funds, $3,362,132.
Please note that the pandemic’s impact on the city financial position will be an ongoing event that could last for years, Wolff said. The pandemic had an immediate impact on revenues related to charges for services (parks and recreation, municipal court, etc.) and negatively impacted long-term revenue by slowing down new development. The pandemic also had an impact on supply chains and inflation, which has caused costs to increase for capital projects and to maintain existing service levels.
More information on how COVID funds were used is available at: (https://covid.ks.gov/covid-data/).  Once you click on Johnson County – there are multiple drop-down options for program funding with descriptions of each program.