The city of Fort Wayne expected this week to receive half of the nearly $50.2 million coming to it in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.
While City Council members were asked during their May 11 committee meeting to just create the fund, they spent about an hour discussing how to fairly distribute the money.
City controller Garry Morr came before council to get approval for creation of the ARP Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund just so he has somewhere to put the money when it arrives. The second half will come in 2022.
“It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Morr said of the money, though he later said, “I describe the funds as a blessing and a curse, all in one big package” that should be under the direction of a consultant with expertise in the COVID-19-related funding rules.
He explained the terms on the money’s use: it must be used by Dec. 21, 2024, and council will have a say in how any of the money is spent. Those were the terms he knew of for sure, but noted that rules related to last year’s COVID-19 funds changed several times throughout the year. And he recommended that the city apply for any of those other funding sources before committing the ARP money to make it go further.
The money can be used:
• To respond to the pandemic or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality
• For premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work (as determined by each recipient government) during the pandemic, providing up to $13 per hour above regular wages
• For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the pandemic (relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency)
• To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure
Already some groups have notified council members to keep them in mind for any money that might help them recover lost revenue caused by COVID-19. Morr noted that the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo faces a $2 million revenue loss because of the COVID-19 shutdown. He said he expected the first requests to come before council soon.
Sharon Tucker, D-6th, was lauded for her bipartisan work with Russ Jehl, R-2nd, who was absent from the meeting, on an amendment that included a requirement that no less than 5% of the ARP money would go to premium pay for city workers, no less than 20% on infrastructure and no less than 20% for the households/nonprofits and tourism/travel/hospitality sectors.
That would relieve pressure from the administration in dealing with all the requests so that no industry, such as the nonprofit sector, gets more than its fair share of the money.
“I want the koalas to be fed, but I also want the streets to be repaired,” Tucker said.
An issue for some members was the premium, or “hazard,” pay, with Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, wanting to know if the money would be limited to workers employed by the city of Fort Wayne or open to anyone working in Fort Wayne.
With amendments, council passed the measure 7-1, with Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, opposed.
In other council business
Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, and Arp voted no against a recommendation to designate an economic revitalization area and approving a waiver of noncompliance for Acadia Healthcare Company’s property at 3955 W. Washington Center Road.
Lutheran Health Network of Indiana, LLC, an affiliate of the Lutheran Health Network, and Acadia Healthcare Company announced March 25 that they were forming a joint venture to build a 120-bed inpatient behavioral health facility at the site. The project is estimated to cost $32.2 million and will provide 120 full-time jobs with an annual payroll of nearly $7.54 million that have annual salaries averaging $62,825.
Ensley and Arp traditionally vote against tax breaks, so the vote was 6-2.
The two also were the only ones to oppose G-21-03-22 Do Pass: An ordinance amending Section 153.07 of Chapter 153 Planning & Development of the city of Fort Wayne code of ordinances dealing with a framework for riverfront development.
Council passed the following previously introduced items by a vote of 8-0:
• S-21-04-10 Do Pass: An ordinance approving construction contract – Dupont Road Trail: Coldwater Road to Pine Mills Road – Resolution/Work Order #0279R between Crosby Excavating, Inc. and the city of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $365,796.40
• S-21-04-11 Do Pass: An ordinance approving construction contract – 2021 Resurfacing Package Northwest – Resolution/Work Order #0485A between E&B Paving, Inc. and the City of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $953,830.00
• S-21-04-12 Do Pass: An ordinance approving construction contract – 2021 Resurfacing Package Southwest – Resolution/Work Order #0488A between Wayne Asphalt and the City of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $929,882.00
• S-21-04-13 Do Pass: An ordinance approving construction contract – Springwood-Orchard Woods Concrete Street Repairs, Phase 2 – Resolution/Work Order #0489C between Hipskind Concrete Corp. and the City of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $1,026,842.50
• S-21-04-14 Do Pass: An ordinance approving construction contract – Burning Tree Concrete Street Repairs – Resolution/Work Order #0492C between Garcia Concrete Construction, Inc. and the City of Fort Wayne, in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $1,280,484.00
• S-21-04-15 Do Pass: An ordinance approving construction contract – Alley R00748 east-west: Broadway, Beaver Avenue, West Oakdale Drive, Illsley Drive — Resolution/Work Order #0456D between Key Concrete, Inc. and the city of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $191,071.00
• R-21-04-16 Do Pass: A Resolution establishing the Arts Campus Fort Wayne Cultural District
• Z-21-02-14: An ordinance amending the city of Fort Wayne Zoning Map No. A-11 (Sec. 14 of Aboite Township) Rezone 1.24 acres from R1/Single Family Residential to C1/Professional and Personal Services at 3910 Dicke Road. A 10,000-square-foot multi-tenant medical office building will be constructed on the site north of the IU Health building under construction, said Michelle Wood, senior planner with the Department of Planning Services.
• Z-21-03-23: An ordinance amending the city of Fort Wayne Zoning Map No. F-03 (Sec. 8 of Wayne Township) Rezone approximately one acre from R1/Single Family Residential to C2/Limited Commercial at 4605 W. Jefferson Blvd. The former Neuhouser Nursery property has been vacant for some time and will be torn down to create a 5,000-square-foot multi-tenant office/personal service/retail development, Wood said. The rezoning will allow for a salon at the location to also create a boutique.
Council committees introduced the following, which will be discussed at a future meeting:
• S-21-05-01: An ordinance approving construction contract – Nordholme Avenue Concrete Street Repairs – Resolution/Work Order #0286C between Wayne Asphalt and Construction Co. Inc. and the city of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $631,296.50
• S-21-05-02: An ordinance approving construction contract – Alley R00959/R00939 north-south, east-west: McKinney Avenue, Lexington Court, South Calhoun Street, South Clinton Street – Resolution/Work Order #0446D between Malott Contracting Inc. and the city of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $230,226.42
• S-21-05-03: An ordinance approving construction contract – Vance Avenue Street Repairs – Resolution/Work Order #0458A between Brooks Construction Co. Inc. and the city of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $434,590.00
• S-21-05-04: An ordinance approving construction contract – 76580 Water Pollution Control Plant Digester Feed and Withdrawal Piping Improvements – Work Order #76580 between F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co, Inc and the City of Fort Wayne in connection with the Board of Public Works – for a total cost of $1,747,700.00
No city council meeting will be held next week due to a lack of business. The public may call Clerk Lana Keesling’s office at 260-427-1221 to be put on the list to make public comments after council’s May 25 meeting. Council will meet in regular session at 5:30 p.m. in Rooms 30 and 35 on the garden level of Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St. The agenda and a link to watch a livestream of the meeting can be found at www.cityoffortwayne.org/meetings.html.