Local governments in New Mexico shared $63 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding, according to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).
President Joe Biden signed the ARPA on March 11 after the United States Congress passed the $1.97 trillion economic stimulus bill.
In a press release, Debbie Romero, DFA cabinet secretary, said DFA worked with the U.S. Treasury in distributing the money to local governments.
“We have been preparing for this knowing how important it is to get the funding distributed efficiently and effectively,” she said in a DFA press release.
Per White House.gov, the American Rescue Plan would change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for American workers.
“The plan will build a bridge to an equitable economic recovery and immediately reduce child poverty. In fact, a Columbia University study found that passing the plan will lift more than 5 million children out of poverty this year, cutting the poverty rate by 50 percent,” read the website.
The DFA release cited federal guidelines for use of funds, including to provide assistance to households, cover the cost of pay for work performed during the public health emergency, replace lost revenue and make investments in water, sewer and broadband.
DFA Local Government Division Director Donnie Quintana said his department worked with the New Mexico Municipal League, city managers and governing bodies to expedite the funds according to the federal government guidelines, per the press release.
State Sen. David Gallegos (R-41) expressed gratitude Quintana reached out to the New Mexico Municipal League.
“That’s a huge group of people that come together and they’re like minded the cities and counties and they’ve already been approached on this,” he said.
Gallegos feared New Mexicans would pay back the money to the federal government at a future date. He said New Mexico municipalities should use the funds.
“We need to be able to get as much as we can for our communities just knowing that we’ve already paid for it. But, we will continue to pay because it’s an allocation that’s going to be coming from my children and grandchildren,” Gallegos said.
State Rep. Randall Pettigrew (R-61) said the $63 million distributed through DFA was only half of the allocation.
“The total allocation to small municipalities will be $126 million. However, so far, only $63 million has been distributed through DFA. The other half will be distributed next year,” he said.
Pettigrew said Eddy County was allocated $11.3 million and received $5.65 million.
More than $13 million was set aside for Lea County, according to Pettigrew. So far, Lea County received around $6.5 million.
“County ARPA funds come directly from the Feds, whereas small municipal funding goes through DFA. The counties, similar to the small municipalities, will receive the second half next year,” he said.
City of Carlsbad ponders ARPA funds
“The City was notified several months ago that the City would receive $7.3 million in ARPA funding,” said Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway.
He said DFA distributed half of the amount to the City of Carlsbad and the second allocation would be coming in a few months.
“City administration is in the early stages of evaluating the guidelines for utilizing this funding,” Janway said.
Once the guidelines are understood, administrators would with the Carlsbad City Council Budget Committee and the City Council to determine best use of the funds.
“Early indications are the City will utilize the funds for revenue replacement for water or sewer projects,” he said.
DFA received the funds on June 23 and disbursed them within 30-days of receipt, read the press release.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.