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ARPA funds could provide relief for sewer, water systems

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Like many cities across the state, Midwest City is taking a slow approach when it comes to determining how to spend COVID-19 relief funding.

Midwest City will receive $9.8 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The law was passed by Congress in March 2021 to aid in the economic recovery and emergency response to COVID-19.

A big reason for the delay is lack of guidance from the federal government on how money can be spent, said City Manager Tim Lyon.

“We still do not have any final regulations from the U.S. Treasury Department on the use of ARPA funds,” Lyon said. “I can get a legal opinion from our city attorney, but we still haven’t received the specifics on it. And we’re not sure when we will get it.”

The federal government dictates how the city can use the monies, but the guidelines are broad. According to the U.S. Treasury Department website, ARPA funds can be used for public health expenditures; to address negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic; to replace lost public sector revenue; to provide premium pay for essential workers; or by investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

At the top of the list for Midwest City are sewer and water line projects, Lyon said. That could include repairing existing lines and adding new ones.

“We’ll utilize the sewer and water enhancements in places where we’ve outgrown capacity and where we’re lacking sewer and water lines,” Lyon said. “This will allow us to continue economic

growth along our arterials.”
Lyon said they are currently identifying the greatest needs in the water and sewer systems and developing engineering estimates for the projects.
Another priority would be upgrades to the City Council Chambers. Lyon said they would like to make the public space more ADA accessible and install a new air purification system.

“Our City Council Chambers are not as ADA accessible as they need to be,” Lyon said. “And we want to enhance the air system in there to make sure it’s purified in a way that public space should be related to COVID.”

Lyon said they hope to have a plan put together within the next few months that could be presented to the city council for approval.

“Hopefully we’ll have the final rules in the next few months, and we can submit a plan to the council that has costs for these projects,” Lyon said.

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