A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Town’s decision to create an ARPA Committee. The Select Board is charging a seven member committee with making recommendations on how to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds. The Town is eligible for reimbursements up to $3,051,241.
Some restrictions apply to how ARPA funds can be used. But the terms allow for a lot of possibilities.
The Select Board will make the decision on how to spend funds.* But first, the Board wants public input on how to handle the “one time” opportunity.
Last week, the Board approved the specific committee charge, including confirming its composition. An announcement issued by the Town is now seeking two “Southborough residents who are not currently members of an appointed or elected Town board or committee.”
Although the language doesn’t specify, earlier in the month Select Board members expressed preference for new blood – someone who hasn’t served on any past committees.
Volunteering for the committee is just one of the ways residents can influence the Board’s decision. The committee will be responsible for seeking wider input through surveys and forums.
Recommendations are to be presented to the Board this spring. While the final deadline is May 16th, anything that would impact budgets in the 2022 Annual Town Meeting is due by March 1st.
The number of at large positions was reduced from three to two to add a member of the Planning Board to the committee. Select Board members agreed that one who served on the Master Plan Committee would be their preference.
Those three members would serve alongside:
- 1 member of the Advisory Committee;
- 2 members of the Capital Planning Committee;
- 1 member of the Economic Development Committee;
Applicants should fill out a form here. (As of this morning, the committee was not yet listed among the ones applicants are asked to select in the online form. I’d advise writing it in under the Narrative section. You can follow up to make sure they received it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
While the Town has posted the committee charge, it doesn’t appear to accurately capture the Select Board’s final vote on the 16th. In the meeting, members discussed softening language in the fourth duty:
The Committee shall develop an evaluation tool to rank proposals for funding, taking into account the benefit of the requested improvement to Town operations and/or the community as a whole;
They decided to replace “shall develop” with “shall consider developing”. (They also discussed specifying members as including one member of the “Planning Board and/or the Master Plan Committee”.)
*I should note that if any of the spending the Board approves is related to a project/budget that requires approval by Town Meeting, then voters will make the ultimate decision.