Dunwoody’s American Rescue Plan and Grants Committee had preliminary discussions about how to spend the city’s American Rescue Plan funding at a May 13 meeting. 

The committee was created by the mayor in April. The city originally received roughly $18.4 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a federal economic stimulus bill meant to help the country recover from economic and health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki, there is roughly $4.4 million in ARP Budget 1, and $10 million in ARP Budget 2. The city has already designated $3 million towards Perimeter Center East Park, $500,000 towards wayfinding signage, and $300,000 towards stormwater expediting.

According to the city’s website, the city took $10 million of its original ARP allotment as revenue replacement. At an April Dunwoody City Council meeting, the council approved the creation of a second ARP fund, which would allow that $10 million to be used on similar projects as the original ARP funding, but without the same federal requirements or timeline. ARP 1 funds have to be obligated towards projects by the end of 2024, and spent by the end of 2026.

At the May 13 meeting, members of the committee – Councilmembers Stacey Harris, Rob Price, and Tom Lambert – discussed possible ways for how to allocate ARP 1 and 2 funding. According to a working version of a committee spreadsheet, different categories for possible allocations include economic development, stormwater projects, public safety, and cybersecurity. 

Direct assistance is also a category. Included in whatever portion of funds is allocated towards direct assistance would be a $200,000 grant that the council approved towards a summer school programs grant at a May 9 meeting. 

Committee members discussed what projects might be suitable for ARP funds, including stormwater projects, parks, and economic development. In an email, Lambert said the city’s goal is to maximize the impact of the funding. 

“I believe our key priorities focused on economic development, resources for our underserved communities and stormwater projects,” he said. “We are also building a much needed park in Perimeter Center, which initially was planned to be built with hotel tax funds before that source of revenue all but disappeared as a result of the pandemic.”

The committee also discussed the possibility of using funds on something called a Social Services Incubator, which Lambert referred to as a legacy project that could help residents in the future as well. 

“This facility not only provides much needed space and resources for our charitable partners, but it also helps to create a symbiosis for these organizations and the services they provide to our community,” Lambert said. “In essence, the city would provide a facility for these organizations to operate out of…providing much needed space and resources.  The beneficiaries of these services would have the additional benefit of ‘one-stop shopping’ to address their needs, as opposed to having to bounce around to the multiple places these organizations are now located.”

According to Lambert, the goal is to discuss ARP funding at the next Dunwoody City Council meeting on May 23, and then vote on allocating the funds in June. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.