ARPA Steering Group Update

Holliston’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Steering Group held its January meeting on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

All members except Finance Committee Chair Dr. Ken Szajda were present. Observing the meeting was Assistant Town Administrator Kathleen Buckley (upper picture, far left). Town Administrator Travis Ahern chaired the meeting (center top) along with members, Fire Chief Michael Cassidy (top right), School Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka, Select Board Clerk John Cronin, and School Committee Chair Cynthia Listewnik (bottom, left to right).

The Group reviewed the allocation of ARPA graph (below) prepared by Administrator Ahern (below). The $4.4 Million allocation to the Town is divided into three buckets: 40% for educational support, 40% for town-wide infrastructure, and 20% supporting Public Health, negative economic impact, and administrative costs.

Administrator Ahern gave the group a “heads up” that our state senator / representative have unofficially shared that approximately $650,000 more will be made available for water and wastewater infrastructure from the State.

No new requests have come to the Steering Group for ARPA support.

Two items on the original list are still being moved forward: the Home Repair Assistance sponsored by the Council on Aging, and the Small Business Relief sponsored by the Economic Development Committee.

The Group voted to recommend to the Select Board that 90 home COVID kits be purchased with ARPA funds. This vote was retroactive. Due to the holidays and the Omicron surge, the Board approved, and Chief Cassidy ordered the kits at the December 20, 2021 meeting. The 90 kits have been received and have been distributed to places where people who are disproportionally impacted and / or not able to purchase over-the-counter kits. The free kits are at the Holliston Food Pantry, Holliston Board of Health, and the Holliston Senior Center.

The Group also voted to recommend to the Select Board an allocation of up to $5,000 to purchase additional kits as needed. Anybody using an at-home COVID test should report positive results to the Holliston Board of Health.

The Group next began the discussion of Capital projects that could be funded fully or partially by the 40% of ARPA reserved for use over the next five years. Below is a list developed by the Town’s consulting engineer, Ali Parand of AP Associates for “shovel-ready” capital projects.

In addition to the above list, the State’s Local Rapid Recovery Plan recommendations included the positive impact of connecting the downtown to the existing Linden St. water treatment facility. The details of the recommendation can be found in the LRRP report here -> https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/g/files/vyhlif706/f/uploads/holliston_-_final_lrrp_report_-_2021.pdf

A Public Forum on the sewage proposal will be held by the Select Board during its January 18, 2022 meeting.

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Chris Cain

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