Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
After voting last month to accept nearly $21 million in coronavirus fiscal recovery funding, the Fernley City Council is scheduled to consider allocating most of the money for the Community Center project and for sewer system upgrades.
City staff has recommended allocating $8 million for sewer infrastructure and $12 million for the development of a community center, with nearly $1 million left over for uses to be determined.
On July 21, the Council adopted a resolution accepting the allocation of $20,972,921.50 from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds established in the American Rescue Plan Act under sections 602 and 603 of the Social Security Act to help states and localities address the economic and health consequences of the pandemic. The proposed spending plan must be accepted by the City Council.
The Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund provides for payments to local governments typically serving a population under 50,000. The City would receive half of the advanced funds in July 2021 and the other half in July 2022.
State, local and Tribal governments which receive the funding must use it
• To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small business, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
• To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers;
• For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency; and
• To make necessary investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
This Community Center is being called the Community Resource and Response Center to ensure the funding matches federal regulations on how these funds are spent. It would house the Boys & Girls Club, and according to materials provided to the council for the meeting, would provide a designated location for vaccine distribution and testing, food distribution, programs and services related to the direct impacts of COVID-19 and the negative economic harm caused including but not limited to food insecurity, childcare, educational needs and mental health.
The $12 million would also allow the Fernley Community Foundation, the group working to build the community center, to go after other private funding sources,, potentially building a $20 million-plus fund for this building.
If the council approves the use of the ARPA funds, the working group will move forward with a full plan for the design, engineering, construction, and implementation of programs and resources for the Community Resources and Response Center.