City set to re-allocate ARPA funding

The Odessa City Council agreed during a brief meeting Tuesday afternoon they are going to “de-allocate” a large percentage of the American Rescue Plan Act money the city has received so they can consider spending it elsewhere.

The city’s new controller, Matt McGee, met with the council for about 40 minutes Tuesday to share with them new rules about how the money can be spent and various deadlines.

As of a couple of weeks ago, the city had received $17.1 million and allocated all of it to such things as first-responder pay raises, COVID testing, vaccinations, lost revenue, personal protective equipment and other services.

McGee, who started his job three weeks ago, was directed to clarify how much of the $17 million has actually been spent after Mayor Javier Joven brought up the fact Odessa Regional Medical Center never completed the process to receive $1 million ARPA funding and Medical Center Hospital refunded $3 million.

McGee originally suggested the city had $12 million still in its coffers, that amount may actually be $16 million when the ORMC and MCH money is taken into account.

Under new rules, the city will be allowed to spend some of the funds to expand current roadway projects or cover additional costs of ongoing projects, McGee said. It can also use be used for Housing and Urban Development projects.

The city must designate how the money will be used by December 2024 and actually spend it by December 2026, McGee said. If the city fails to do so, it will have to reimburse the federal government.

The council collectively agreed to de-allocate all of the funds with the exception of the payroll increases and to look for projects within their districts.

Joven said he wanted to spread the money around as much as possible, noting the city’s many water, sewer and roadway needs.

The council is expected to settle the matter by the end of the year or early next year.