Wallingford close to hiring consultant on ARPA spending  

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WALLINGFORD — The town is poised to hire a consultant to advise officials on how to distribute federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to residents.

UHY Advisors, a nationwide tax and business consulting firm, was the sole bidder in a request for a consultant to assist with the disbursement of Wallingford’s ARPA funding — $13.1 million total — through distribution plan development and grant management.

According to bid documents, the consultant also would be tasked with handling the town’s reporting requirements — making sure the town is in compliance with federal, state and local financial disclosure laws.

The cost of hiring the consultant would be covered through the ARPA funding.

UHY’s hourly rate is listed at $148.06, which will hold for the duration of the contract, Glen Masewicz, a buyer in the town Purchasing Department, said Wednesday.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Tuesday that that the bid won’t be awarded until the Town Council approves funding, but that the request won’t be on the council agenda for its next scheduled meeting Nov. 23.

“We're still going through all of the the facets of it, and putting together the information necessary,” he said, which includes discussion of the consultant’s cost.

“We want to outline exactly what they will be doing for us,” he said, “what we would be suggesting for setting up a structure for reviewing of applications. I think there needs to be a structure proposed, and the advice that would be needed for making decisions, ultimately, what should appear on applications etc., would be information we would want to have the consultant help us with.”

Dickinson has suggested that the town Economic Development Commission could be the body that accepts and reviews applications from residents for ARPA funds.

Despite the lack of bidders, the town likely won’t go out to bid again.

Dickinson recently rejected all bids for paving work to municipal parking lots on Wallace Avenue, saying the bid prices came in too high.

“I don't think there are a lot of firms out there doing this,” he said about the potential ARPA consultant. “We interviewed them, they are very informed, capable of doing the work. I think we would look to proceed with them.”

ARPA was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March, sending a large infusion of cash to states — approximately $350 billion nationwide.

More than $6 billion is estimated to come to Connecticut through multiple ARPA grant programs, according to Lamont's plan for ARPA funding released in April.

Municipalities receive ARPA funds through the state Office of Policy and Management's coronavirus relief programs, under guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Wallingford is slated to receive $13,118,305 in two payments, called tranches, of about $6,559,152 each.

The first half has already been deposited and the other half is slated to come in next year.

The first round of funding must be obligated by Dec. 30, 2024, and fully expended by Dec. 30, 2026.

ARPA funding may be used on a variety of projects, including grants to small businesses and community groups, and a narrow scope of local government projects.

Every municipality and borough statewide is slated to receive some amount of ARPA funding through the state.

Many local leaders already have expended some ARPA money. In Meriden, the city’s ARPA steering committee voted last week to recommend funding the fire department's request to purchase a new fire pumper for its South Meriden station.

Meriden is slated to receive approximately $36.4 million. The city has received close to three dozen funding requests, with more than 20 of those requests coming from city departments, according to officials.

Dickinson was questioned during the Nov. 9 Town Council meeting about Wallingford’s perceived lack of progress on spending its ARPA money.

Dickinson said that although towns have begun to approve expenditures, he believes some have used the money for things that he would not feel are appropriate under ARPA.

He declined Tuesday to go into detail about what towns or which projects he was referring to.

“I think the primary issue, initially, will be to provide assistance and aid to those who suffered in the private sector, individuals, small business, nonprofits, tourism,” Dickinson said during the council meeting.

“Those are the people (we) should not be forgetting,” he said. “In addition, there are all kinds of projects that can be pursued by government, but often those projects have to be linked by a central census tract to underserved, poorer areas of a community. So there there are multiple layers that have to be reviewed. It is not simple.”

This story has been updated with additional information received after publication.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores


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