State leaders spreading word about available ARPA funds

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 5:15 PM EST
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont received a little more than $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, but only about half the funds have been awarded and time is running out to spend the rest. State leaders are traveling around Vermont, specifically targeting rural communities, to let them know about the millions in ARPA funds that are still available.

“So this is really good news for all of us,” said Bill Billard, a resident of the Tri-Park Mobile Home Community in Brattleboro for about a decade. It’s the largest cooperatively- owned park in the state and is home to about 1,000 residents. But it also needs work, with the most pressing issue being the sewer lines.

“We’ve heard year after year after year that is going to happen. So, it’s a little nerve-racking when you are on a sewer line that could go anytime,” Billard said.

The park has also been prone to flooding, a reoccurring issue that was exacerbated during Tropical Storm Irene. But improvements are coming. Not only is the sewer infrastructure being upgraded, but some residents are also being bought out and relocated out of the flood zone thanks in part to ARPA funds.

“Tri-Park doesn’t have enough spare cash to cover the difference that these ARPA funds are covering, so there are no means by which we would be able to balance our project budget without this funding,” said Daniel Ridlehoover with M&S Development.

Projects that are eligible for ARPA grants include combating climate change, broadband expansion, infrastructure improvements, housing, and economic development. However, the money will not last forever. There is a deadline to apply and state officials say rural areas are often the last in line. Officials have been hosting meetings across the region about the funds that they say could be crucial to some communities.

“Our ability to buy down the cost of the capital investments -- the new pipes going in the ground -- allows residents to use their dollars to ensure the proper operation and maintenance of that system for the long term,” said Vermont Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

And for residents like Billard, it also buys a lot of peace of mind. “We will be able to rest a little easier,” he said.

The Budget Adjustment Act contains an additional $3 million that will hire consultants to help walk rural communities through the application process.

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