Since receiving the money last year, officials with the city of Ogdensburg have made good use of federal funds intended to supplement financial resources weakened by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021. This was a $1.9 trillion stimulus package designed to assist economic recovery throughout the nation.
Part of ARPA was the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. This provided $350 billion to municipal, state and tribal governments. Local authorities have the discretion to allocate money to organizations and businesses as well as finance approved government projects.
Ogdensburg was awarded $1,068,179 from the CSLFRF. The city received about half of this amount in 2021 and will receive the other half this year.
Officials offered $173,500 to nonprofit organizations and small businesses and kept another $100,000 to help offset lost revenues in 2020 and 2021. The city sought input from residents last year to determine how much money would need to be offered to businesses and organizations. This was an appropriate outreach to gauge Ogdensburg’s needs.
Earlier this month, officials announced another way they’ll use CSLFRF money to benefit the community. The City Council unanimously approved a program called the Individual Assistance Program.
Homeowners may apply for funds for exterior and interior projects. They are eligible to be reimbursed up to $5,000 for approved expenses.
“According to the application attached to the agenda, each home would be limited to one interior project funded as well as one exterior project. Exterior improvements include paint, siding, facia, soffit, front porch, windows, roof, chimney, landscaping and exterior door replacement. Interior improvements include electrical upgrades, plumping upgrades and heating and cooling replacement. The applicant must own an existing home or apartment building within the city limits. Applicant must obtain proper permits,” according to a story published April 11 by the Watertown Daily Times. “The application must be filled out by the homeowner, and it must include a professional quote or printed material quote as well as proof of total income from year 2020 and/or 2021 attached to the application. The application states that homeowners may apply for both an exterior and an interior project. However, a distinction must be made by the applicant as to which project is a priority as the second project will only be funded if there are funds remaining after the first round of grants. The amount granted will be based on total income in three levels not to exceed $5,000 for each project. Reimbursements will be provided depending on the following income limits: Up to $50,000, there will be 100% reimbursement; $50,001 to $75,000, reimbursement will be 75%; and incomes $75,000 and up will qualify for 50% reimbursement.
“[City Manager Stephen P. Jellie] said each project may be different,” the article reported. “But they may provide eligible projects a 20% or 25% payment in the beginning to get the project going and then pay it as it goes, or they may just make a full payment at the end and reimburse the homeowner. They will make this assistance program retroactive to the beginning of the year, according to Mr. Jellie.”
This federal stimulus package was intended to help Americans get back on their feet. Properly maintaining homes goes a long way toward retaining property values. Ogdensburg’s program will assist neighborhoods in remaining viable during this period of economic uncertainty, and that will enrich the entire city in the long run.