Community program

IT needs, community program to obtain ARPA funding | Government

After 10 months and $19.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, the St. Joseph City Council decided to spend its final allocation of money for two purposes.

All allocations for the city’s first installment of ARPA money were supposed to be made now. However, the Joseph Company waived its claim, putting $200,000 back on the table.

The board met in a working session on Tuesday to decide how to reallocate that remaining money. Members reviewed the more than 70 initial applications and allowed all organizations present to make a pitch.

St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally kicked things off. He said the department’s server needed to be replaced for $150,000 because it was reaching the end of its lifespan.

“If the server goes down, that would mean there could be data loss if it’s not backed up properly,” said Dawn Lanning, the city’s system administrator. “More importantly, you are going to have a breakdown in the public safety systems. This creates a problem because they are so dependent on the response of these systems.

LaTonya Williams, director of the Bartlett Center, called for more funds to expand programs, staff and training. The Bartlett Center has already been allocated $50,000 in ARPA funding, but that was only a third of what Williams requested.

YWCA officials said they could use leftover ARPA funds for a healthy teen parent program that supports and helps teenage mothers, while Laurie Tietjen, the city’s chief financial officer, said the department needed computer upgrades to meet audit recommendations.

After a short deliberation, the board unanimously agreed to spend the majority of the funds on a new server for the police department.

“We have to keep updates and everything related to city safety,” Councilman Kent O’Dell said. “As the server is a major heartbeat for public safety, it needs to be taken care of before it crashes and we lose all information and have to go back months and months of work. It is better that we deal with it now.

The majority of board members agreed to donate the remaining $50,000 to the Bartlett Center. These two financing contracts will be approved at the next board meeting. The city is also working on its $50,000 contract with Noyes Home.

Once these contracts are approved by the council, the city will have allocated the first installment of ARPA funds. But this is only half of what will be spent. A second installment of $19.5 million is expected to hit the city’s bank account this summer, leaving it to the next council to decide how to spend it.