Updated: Council Focuses on Infrastructure for ARPA funds

5 Percent Reserved for Qualifying Community-Proposed Projects

Elkins, W. Va., October 11, 2021: The Elkins council is prioritizing infrastructure and physical plant projects as it decides how to spend the $3 million the city is receiving under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). With decisions made at last week’s meeting and its meeting of August 19, council has now allocated 47 percent of the total disbursement, with a large share already reserved for long overdue repairs and upgrades to the city’s water system.

One of last week’s council actions also reserved funds for an engineering assessment to prioritize additional pressing water and sewer projects. According to Mayor Jerry Marco, the city’s infrastructure needs greatly exceed the $3 million ARPA disbursement. As a result, he says, the city doesn’t have the luxury of using much of this money for non-essential work.

“It would be wonderful if we could use ARPA money for a bunch of new facilities and programs and really build out what we’re currently providing to the people of Elkins,” says Marco. “Unfortunately, we have a lot of deferred maintenance and other really urgent work that it would be irresponsible to postpone.”

Federal rules state that ARPA funds may be used in four broad categories: to respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts; to provide premium pay to workers performing essential work during the public health emergency; to replace lost public sector revenues; and to make investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

Council’s Initial ARPA Decisions

An online survey that was available in late summer found public support for using ARPA funds to address infrastructure needs. Although an opt-in survey of this kind cannot be considered representative of the population at large, 62 percent of the 232 respondents said they would rather see the city use its ARPA disbursement to make “investments in critical infrastructure.” Only 38 percent supported using ARPA funds for responding to the public health emergency or otherwise directly addressing the effects of the pandemic.

To date, council has decided to spend around $650,000 in ARPA funds on equipment and initial supplies needed to replace decrepit water lines and correct deficiencies that have been identified at the water treatment plant.

Another $450,000 is reserved for city hall projects that will be planned in coordination with council’s Municipal Properties Committee. Likely projects include the installation of a generator to provide power for the police department and other essential city services during emergencies, as well as making the century-old building more accessible for all citizens, such as by installing an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp and an elevator approved for passenger use.

At last week’s meeting, council decided to reserve 5 percent of the total ARPA disbursement for projects proposed by community organizations which fall into approved expenditure categories. Council also allocated $5,000 to the mayor’s Addiction and Homelessness Task Force for the purpose of training peer recovery coaches to assist persons with substance abuse disorder in seeking treatment. Two additional approved expenditures were $10,000 for a website redesign to improve accessibility and reliability and $21,350 for deployment and the first three years’ cost of a software platform to enable automated subscriptions, notifications, and online access to council and committee agendas, meeting minutes, and packets for the public.

These decisions were based on the recommendations of council’s ad hoc ARPA Advisory Committee, which was formed in June, soon after the announcement that Elkins would be receiving $3 million in ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds (FRF). Since June, the committee has been studying U.S. Department of the Treasury rules governing the use of these funds and analyzing suggestions and requests from city staff and the public to determine the most urgent eligible projects.

ARPA Ambiguities

One issue the committee has been grappling with is the fact that there are ambiguities concerning what projects can be paid for using ARPA funds. Certain types of projects are explicitly allowed under the published rules, such as investments in and improvements to existing water and sewer infrastructure. Other sections of the rules are less specific, however, and there is no state or federal process for obtaining advance approvals or authoritative advice.

“Cities and counties across the nation are having to do their best to interpret these rules on their own,” says Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton. “It’s pretty clear that the water and sewer improvements that the committee is looking at are going to be allowed, but some of the rest of the rules are more open to interpretation. We’re just going to have to do our best to get as close as possible to the intent of the language, but it is possible that some of our proposed projects could be determined ineligible during a later audit.”

For this reason, community organizations interested in applying for portions of the 5 percent council reserved for them will be asked to explain how their proposed projects fit into the federal guidelines. They will also be expected to provide detailed written budgets and other documentation as appropriate to their proposals.

“Any organizations thinking of applying to use ARPA funds need to keep in mind that this is a much more formal process than requesting contributions from the city’s general fund,” says Sutton. “The ARPA rules do allow the city to disburse some of these funds to community organizations, but they are considered subrecipients under the legislation and must follow all of the same documentation requirements and potentially be subject to the same audits as the city.”

First Bite of the Elephant

“As I said earlier this year, $3 million may sound like a lot of money but, with the high cost and competition for materials resulting from ARPA funds going out nationwide, it’s just not going to go as far as it would have a few years ago,” says Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco. “That is why I have cautioned council and citizens to taper their expectations regarding this funding.”

The mayor gave examples of just a few of the many projects the ARPA Advisory Committee is considering.

“We have a $35 million state-of-the-art water plant up on the hill, but we’re pushing water out through 100-year-old lines,” he says. “We have bridges that are in desperate need of attention. City hall is not ADA compliant. To top it all off, it’s recently been brought to our attention that the flood control system is going to need some work as well.”

Many of the city’s most pressing infrastructure needs were not brought to the attention of elected officials until late summer, according to the mayor.

“The existence of these problems is not exactly a surprise, but the magnitude of it all is only just now coming to light,” says Marco. “We can’t give an exact bottom line on all of it, but safe to say we’re looking at tens and tens of millions of dollars of urgent infrastructure work needed in the near term.”

Addressing all of these problems will carry a price tag greatly exceeding the city’s ARPA disbursement, but what that price tag is won’t be clear until after the engineering assessment council authorized last week, as well as further research and analysis by city staff.

“The remaining 53 percent of the ARPA funds we haven’t allocated yet will help us address some of this, but it’s just the first bite of the elephant,” says Marco. “We are actively seeking other funding sources as well, and of course we are following negotiations about the infrastructure bills in D.C. closely. These are problems we can solve, and we have a good team working on them, but it’s going to take time and work and it’s not all going to be paid for with free money from the federal government.”

ARPA funds are being distributed in two equal disbursements, half in 2021 and half in 2022; the city received its initial tranche of ARPA funds this summer. ARPA funds cannot be used to cover expenditures made prior to March 3, 2021. Funds must be obligated no later than December 31, 2024, and expenditures to cover those obligations must occur no later than December 31, 2026.

For more about City of Elkins planning concerning ARPA funds, including a link to the results of the online survey, visit our website: www.cityofelkinswv.com/arpa-funds.

City of Elkins Tree Board Announces Friends of Trees Program

Date: October 5, 2021

Contact: Marilynn Cuonzo, Chair, Elkins Tree Board mcuonzo@cityofelkinswv.com

ELKINS-The City of Elkins Tree Board has recently reinvigorated the Friends of Trees (FOT) program which is made up of volunteers who support tree planting and greenspace projects throughout the city. Former tree board member Katy McClane, who has been active in many beautification projects associated with the WVU Master Gardener program, Emma Scott Garden Club and Elkins Main Street, serves as coordinator of this program.

Recently, FOT members assisted in cleaning up the gardens in front of City Hall and in the Darden Gardens. Future plans include tree plantings at the Kump House, tree nursery maintenance and other projects that will enhance the overall urban forest in Elkins.

“We encourage everyone to get involved,” McClane said. “There are hands-on projects as well as more research-based projects that volunteers could assist with. Everything can make a difference.”

The next Friends of Trees volunteer day is set for Saturday, October 23 beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Kump House across the street from Kroger’s on Randolph Ave. The project includes tree plantings and deer fence installation.

For more information on the Friends of Trees program or you would like to become a member, email Katy McClane: katy.mcclane@gmail.com. Friends of Trees also offers various workshops throughout the year and, those interested are encouraged to visit the Elkins Friends of Trees Facebook page. The Elkins Tree Board meets the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the Darden House adjacent to City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.

PHOTO CUTLINE: AmeriCorps member Haley Shreve (left) and Friends of Trees volunteer Paula Heinke work hard on beautifying the gardens in front of City Hall on a recent volunteer day.

Elkins Releases Welcome Guide for New Residents

Elkins has released a new publication aimed at recent arrivals in town. The booklet, Welcome to Elkins: A guide to Living and Working in Elkins, West Virginia, is intended to familiarize new residents with city services, procedures, and rules.

The guide includes a brief history of Elkins followed by chapters about downtown parking regulations, weekly and special garbage collection, utility services and billing, and assorted topics related to building and maintenance code enforcement.

Other sections orient newcomers to the city’s recreation facilities and offer a listing of the city’s many arts and cultural venues, clubs, and nonprofit organizations. There is also an overview of area public safety and emergency service providers. The guide goes on to explain business licensing, business taxes, and the local tax structure.

Contact information is provided for both frequently contacted city departments and external agencies that also serve area residents. Finally, there is a listing of local service, volunteer, and fraternal organizations that new arrivals may be interested in joining.

The guide is available in paper form on request at Elkins City Hall or may be downloaded on the city website here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/living/welcome-to-elkins.

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Clarification: “Street Legal” UTVs Not Prohibited in Elkins

Contrary to past messaging on this topic, “street legal” utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) are not prohibited from being operated on public streets in the City of Elkins. ATVs, however, remain prohibited on city streets under current city law. Both may be operated on private property. Read on to learn more about what “street legal” UTVs are and the current city and state laws pertaining to them.

Background

Until 2020, state law prohibited all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) from traveling on public streets and highways, except for the purpose of crossing them.

In 2001, the Elkins Common Council adopted its own ordinance prohibiting use of ATVs (as defined in W. Va. Code § 17-A-1-1(ii)) on city streets. This 2001 ordinance remains in effect today.

Definitions

Current W. Va. Code defines ATVs as:

“[A]ny motor vehicle designed for off-highway use and designed to travel on not less than three low-pressure or nonhighway tires, is 50 inches or less in width and intended by the manufacturer to be used by a single operator or is specifically designed by the manufacturer with seating for each passenger. “All-terrain vehicle” and “ATV” does not include mini trucks, golf carts, riding lawnmowers, electric bicycles as defined in §17C-1-70 of this code, or tractors.” (W. Va. Code § 17-A-1-1(ii))

Current W. Va. Code defines UTVs as:

“[A]ny motor vehicle with four or more low-pressure or nonhighway tires designed for off-highway use and is greater than 50 inches in width. “Utility terrain vehicle” does not include mini trucks, golf carts, riding lawnmowers, or tractors.” (W. Va. Code § 17-A-1-1(vv))

2020 Change to State Code

During the West Virginia Legislature’s 2020 session, lawmakers amended state law to create a framework under which certain ATVs and UTVs could be operated legally on public streets and highways.

Under the new law, W. Va. Code §17A-13-1, ATVs and UTVs that (1) comply with all of that law’s stipulated requirements (including but not limited to headlamps, tail lamps, windshields, mufflers, and similar items) and (2) are registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles in the same manner as motorcycles (including displaying a Class G registration plate) may be operated on most public streets and highways. (Exceptions include controlled-access highways, such as interstates.)

Implications for Elkins

Admittedly, W. Va. Code 17A-13-1 does not require cities to allow the operation of even “street legal” UTVs or ATVs. Instead, in essence, this law states that “the county, municipality, or Division of Natural Resources… [may] prohibit… special purpose vehicles.”

Elkins does not prohibit both categories of these vehicles, however. Although Elkins law does prohibit ATVs from being operated on city streets, there is no prohibition concerning UTVs.

Therefore, under current state and city laws, it is permitted for UTVs meeting the requirements of §17A-13-1 to be operated on city streets. Changing this would require new action by council.

$1.27 Million Grant for Economy Building in Elkins, 7 Other W. Va. Communities

Award is from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative to the WV Community Development Hub 

CHARLESTON, WV – The WV Community Development Hub is excited to announce the launch of the Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreation Economies (DARRE), a strategic three-year initiative to build local economies. Eight communities located in the Monongahela National Forest region in West Virginia will participate: Cowen, Elkins, Franklin, Marlinton, Parsons, Petersburg,  Richwood, and White Sulphur Springs. 

The central partners of the program, the WV Community Development Hub, the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU, and Partner Community Capital (formerly Natural Capital Investment Fund), combined bring more than 30 years of experience in community engagement, property redevelopment technical services, financial investment and lending, and strategic planning. 

With the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and matching funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the One Foundation, DARRE will support rural communities in building an integrated strategy for economy building focused on the following activities: downtown building redevelopment, entrepreneurial training & small business development assistance, and comprehensive community revitalization.

While the tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, state and national parks have been an exception to the rule, including in West Virginia which saw a 9% increase of visitors to these locations in 2020. Communities located near parks and recreational areas, like the eight participating in DARRE, are ideally placed to take advantage of the state’s investment in tourism attraction and its connected investment in remote worker attraction.

DARRE will build upon community partnerships developed as part of the WV Community Development Hub’s community coaching programs including working with existing teams to help accelerate positive impacts. The eight participating communities will have access to over $1M in technical assistance funding to revitalize underutilized downtown properties and attract developer investment; technical support to build engaged entrepreneurial communities that proactively develop and support small businesses; and community development services that ensure long-term local engagement and visible improvements to each individual community.  

The central partners leading this program will engage many business and project development support organizations to leverage the maximum amount of resources for participating communities. The DARRE partnership welcomes inquiries from interested stakeholders as well as residents in participating communities. To get connected with the DARRE program, contact program leads Kaycie Stushek at k.stushek@wvhub.org or Stacy Thomas at s.thomas@wvhub.org.

About the WV Community Development Hub

The West Virginia Community Development Hub mobilizes residents from all over the state to spark transformational change and progress in their communities. Hallmarks of the organization’s work are to spur on fresh momentum where little exists; to unite the forces of groups that have not considered – or even resisted – collaboration in the past; and to champion new, and sometimes unexpected, leaders. Over the past year, The Hub has worked directly with 21 communities across the state and 40% of West Virginians were positively impacted by Hub-related projects. More information about The Hub’s work and impacts over the past year is available at wvhub.org

CONTACT: EMMA PEPPER, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, 202-550-2208, E.PEPPER@WVHUB.ORG

Main Street Survey About New Parking Signs and Markings

Elkins is testing new parking signs and parking-space markings on one block of Third Street, and the public is invited to provide feedback through an online survey.

The purpose of this “test block,” which lies on Third Street between Davis Avenue and Kerens Avenue, is to enable city officials, residents, business owners and employees, and other stakeholders to see and comment on proposed new signs and markings before plans are finalized for implementation throughout the downtown area.

Elkins Main Street, a downtown revitalization organization that frequently partners with City of Elkins on improvements in the city’s Central Business District, is coordinating the survey and will collect and report on results.

“We want to hear what people think,” says Madalyn Higgins, the executive director of Elkins Main Street. “If any of the signs are hard to see or confusing, or if the markings on the ground could be tweaked to make them more helpful, that’s exactly the sort of thing we’re hoping to hear. We want any new signs and other visual aids to be as helpful as possible.”

The proposed signage and markings currently on display on the test block are the latest step in the multi-phase Elkins Streetscape Vision created by Elkins Main Street and City of Elkins and adopted by city council in 2016. The overall goals of the parking-related action steps in this plan are to reduce visual clutter, make the downtown even more inviting, and encourage visitors and locals alike to get out of their cars, visit local businesses, and explore the area.

Past steps included the removal of all downtown parking-meter heads and the change from 2-hour paid parking to 3-hour free parking 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Future steps include removal of all meter posts throughout downtown. The new parking signposts will include brackets for the American Legion’s flag displays on national flag holidays. Meter posts will be temporarily left in place on Davis Avenue and Third Street so that these displays can continue uninterrupted in the meantime.

After the survey responses and other feedback have been analyzed and incorporated, Elkins Main Street and the city will plan for implementation of new signage and markings throughout the downtown.

“This has been a collaborative project all along,” says Higgins. “We’ve had great support from the city’s Street Department, and Randolph WORC students assisted with painting the new markings. Now it’s the public’s turn to weigh in and let us know how we can make the new signage and markings as helpful and successful as possible.”

The survey is here: www.bit.ly/ElkinsParkingSurvey

The Elkins Streetscape Vision is here: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Streetscape

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Read this on our blog: www.cityofelkinswv.com/city-blog.

 

UPDATED 8/30: Water-Line Flushing to Resume Monday

Updated Monday, 8/30

Elkins, W. Va., August 27, 2021: Elkins crews have completed flushing water lines in Fourth Ward and Fifth Ward. There will be no flushing Friday night. Work will continue Monday 5 p.m.-5 a.m., when crews will start flushing lines south of Eleventh Street, including all of First Ward in Third and Second Wards. [Update: the change is because of water-line relocation work scheduled for South Elkins Monday at 4.]

“We’re making good time so far,” says Wes Lambert, the chief operator of the city’s water system. “The Street Department was good enough to detail four men to assist, so that has really helped us move quickly.”

After flushing is complete in a given section of the city, the Elkins Fire Department performs flow testing on each hydrant to verify that they are operating according to specifications. Although flow testing only requires hydrants to be open for a few minutes, it takes longer than flushing because each hydrant must be tested. Flushing does not require opening every hydrant, because many sit near each other on the same line.

Even though the overall goal of the flushing is to reduce sediment in water lines, customers in or near a section of the city that is being flushed may temporarily experience heightened discoloration in their water. This does not indicate that the water is unsafe to drink, cook with, or bathe in, but it would be advisable to avoid doing laundry until any remaining sediment has settled once again.

Customers experiencing cloudy or discolored water can try leaving taps open in a bathtub or sink for 20 minutes. It is important not to run hot water, however, as that would fill the building’s water heater with water that contains sediments.

Each week, the city will use its social media channels, email alert list, and website to announce which sections of the city will be flushed. The information will also be supplied to the media.

To keep up with City of Elkins news and announcements about this and other topics, bookmark our website (www.cityofelkinswv.com), sign up for email alerts (www.cityofelkinswv.com/newsletter-signup), and follow us via Facebook (www.facebook.com/elkinscityhall) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/elkinscityhall). The Water Line Flushing Map is here: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Flushing-Map.

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Flushing Complete East of Randolph, Continuing West of Randolph

Elkins, W. Va., August 26, 2021: Water-line flushing east of Randolph Avenue is complete, and crews will begin flushing west of Randolph Avenue tonight. The Elkins Fire Department is flow-testing all fire hydrants in Fourth Ward today. Water lines are being flushed 5 p.m.-5 a.m. Monday-Friday, and work is expected to continue for the next two weeks.

Tonight’s flushing, which starts at 5 p.m., will begin in the vicinity of Randolph Avenue and Eleventh Street and proceed north between the Tygart River and Randolph. The hydrants to be flushed starting tonight lie in the easternmost part of First Ward and Second Ward. Hydrants in Fifth Ward will be flushed as well.

On the city’s online Water Line Flushing Map (www.bit.ly/Elkins-Flushing-Map), these hydrants are in Section 2 and are identified by green dots. (See screenshot, below.)

“Last night’s flushing in Fourth Ward went pretty quickly,” said Wes Lambert, the chief operator of the city’s water system. “The further we move out from Reservoir Hill, the longer it is going to take to clear some of the lines.”

To flush the lines, Water Distribution Department workers systematically open fire hydrants and let the water flow at full force until water clears. After flushing is complete, the Elkins Fire Department will perform flow testing on each hydrant to ensure they are operating as required for emergencies.

Although the overall goal of the flushing is to reduce sediment in water lines, customers in or near a section of the city that is being flushed may temporarily experience heightened discoloration in their water. This does not indicate that the water is unsafe to drink, cook with, or bathe in, but it would be advisable to avoid doing laundry until any remaining sediment has settled once again.

Customers experiencing cloudy or discolored water can try leaving taps open in a bathtub or sink for 20 minutes. It is important not to run hot water, however, as that would fill the building’s water heater with water that contains sediments.

Each week, the city will use its social media channels, email alert list, and website to announce which sections of the city will be flushed. The information will also be supplied to the media.

City officials are currently investigating whether funds awarded to Elkins under the American Rescue Project Act (ARPA) may be used to replace older water mains and make other improvements to the water distribution system.

“We are hoping to take some concrete steps soon toward a more permanent solution for customers experiencing discolored water,” says Lambert. “Until then, regular line flushing is the best tool we have for at least reducing the problems people are having. Unfortunately, some people are going to see discolored water as we proceed. We just hope everyone will be patient and bear with us as we get this program rolling again.”

To keep up with City of Elkins news and announcements about this and other topics, bookmark our website (www.cityofelkinswv.com), sign up for email alerts (www.cityofelkinswv.com/newsletter-signup), and follow us via Facebook (www.facebook.com/elkinscityhall) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/elkinscityhall). The Water Line Flushing Map is here: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Flushing-Map.

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Water-Line Flushing Starts Wednesday

Elkins, W. Va., August 24, 2021: The City of Elkins Water Distribution Department will begin flushing the city’s water lines on Wednesday night, the chief operator of the city’s water system announced today. The flushing will be performed 5 p.m.-5 a.m. Monday-Friday as other work allows. This week’s flushing will focus on Fourth Ward and U.S. Route 33 eastward from its intersection with Randolph Avenue.

The purpose of the flushing, which the health department recommends be performed every six months, is to reduce the volume of rust, mineral deposits, and other sediments in underground water pipes that can cause cloudy or discolored water at the tap.

In 2017, the city built a new, state-of-the-art plant to purify water from the Tygart Valley River. This water must travel to Elkins homes and businesses through a network of much older pipes, however, some of which have been in the ground for the better part of a century.

“Our water plant puts out high-quality, extremely pure drinking water, but some of the pipes that water has to go out through are really old and not in the greatest condition,” says Wes Lambert, the water system’s chief operator. “That fancy new plant doesn’t mean a whole lot to someone who gets brown water when they turn on the faucet.”

To flush the lines, Water Distribution Department workers will systematically open fire hydrants and let the water flow at full force for a prescribed amount of time. The flushing will be combined with flow testing to ensure each hydrant is operating in accordance with fire department requirements.

“The flushing is not a perfect process because of the way the system has grown over the years,” says Lambert. “There are some parts of the city where, because of hydrant location and the hydrodynamics of the pipe network in that area, we aren’t able to flush as much as we would like. But the hope is that by flushing everywhere we can on a regular basis, it will still reduce the overall volume of sediment in the pipes citywide.”

Another reason flushing is not always a cure-all for discolored water is because the rust or other sediments affecting certain customers may originate in their own service lines, the pipes that connect the city-maintained water mains to each customer’s house or building.

“If the rust is coming from a customer’s service line, the flushing we’re doing is not going to help a whole lot,” says Lambert, who points out that the city is responsible for water lines only until they reach each customer’s water meter. “In that case, the customer is going to need to consult with a plumber to see what they might be able to do.”

Lambert explains that the goal is to complete this round of flushing within about a month but concedes it may take longer.

“If our guys could do this every night, we’d be able to wrap up in about a month. But we know there are going to be water-line breaks and other projects that come along, so it will probably run longer than that.”

Although the overall goal of the flushing is to reduce sediment in water lines, customers in or near a section of the city that is being flushed may temporarily experience heightened discoloration in their water. This does not indicate that the water is unsafe to drink, cook with, or bathe in, but it would be advisable to avoid doing laundry until any remaining sediment has settled once again.

Customers experiencing cloudy or discolored water can try leaving taps open in a bathtub or sink for 20 minutes. It is important not to run hot water, however, as that would fill the building’s water heater with water that contains sediments.

Each week, the city will use its social media channels, email alert list, and website to announce which sections of the city will be flushed. The information will also be supplied to the media.

City officials are currently investigating whether funds awarded to Elkins under the American Rescue Project Act (ARPA) may be used to replace older water mains and make other improvements to the water distribution system.

“We are hoping to take some concrete steps soon toward a more permanent solution for customers experiencing discolored water,” says Lambert. “Until then, regular line flushing is the best tool we have for at least reducing the problems people are having. Unfortunately, some people are going to see discolored water as we proceed. We just hope everyone will be patient and bear with us as we get this program rolling again.”

To keep up with City of Elkins news and announcements about this and other topics, bookmark our website (www.cityofelkinswv.com), sign up for email alerts (www.cityofelkinswv.com/newsletter-signup), and follow us via Facebook (www.facebook.com/elkinscityhall) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/elkinscityhall).

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Elkins Launches Online ARPA Survey

Elkins, W. Va., August 20, 2021: City of Elkins is using an online survey to collect public input concerning how to spend federal pandemic-recovery funds granted to the city. The survey will accept responses through Sunday, September 12.

Under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed earlier this year, Elkins has been awarded approximately $3 million in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Mayor Jerry Marco has established an ad-hoc ARPA Advisory Committee to advise the Elkins council as it considers how to make use of these funds.

The mayor, the committee, and city staff have already been discussing possible uses for these funds, including improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems and ADA accessibility upgrades to city hall. The purpose of the online survey is to enable the public to propose additional ideas for making best use of these funds.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury (DOT) has issued rules guiding and restricting expenditures of these funds. There are two overarching restrictions.

First, ARPA funds must be used in one of the following categories: supporting the public health response to the pandemic; addressing the negative economic impacts of the pandemic; replacing public sector revenue losses; providing premium pay for essential workers; improving water and sewer infrastructure; improving broadband infrastructure; and/or providing equity-focused services.

Second, DOT rules specifically prohibit ARPA funds from being used to offset reductions in net tax revenues or to make extraordinary payments (i.e., payments intended to reduce accrued unfunded liabilities) into public pension funds.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, ARPA funds will be distributed in two equal disbursements, half in 2021 and half in 2022. ARPA funds cannot be used to cover expenditures made prior to March 3, 2021. Funds must be obligated no later than December 31, 2024, and expenditures to cover those obligations must occur no later than December 31, 2026.

Extensive additional restrictions apply. These may be reviewed by visiting the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds home page to access fact sheets, FAQs, and the full interim rules for use of these funds.

Survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/RBWDQ3P

DOT Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds homepage: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds

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