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City of Port Arthur seeks public input on how to spend $26.6M in federal COVID-19 relief funds

The United Stales Treasury Department requires that a public hearing be held for the receipt of federal funds.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — The City Of Port Arthur will be hosting a virtual public hearing to obtain input regarding the city's acceptance of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The hearing will take place Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. via telephonic and videoconference.

The ARPA plans to distribute more than $360 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial and tribal governments.

This is to ensure that cities are in a position to keep front-line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services, according to the White House website. 

The total estimated award for Port Arthur is $26,630,000. 

The United States Treasury Department requires that a public hearing be held for the receipt of federal funds pursuant to the ARPA. 

The City of Port Arthur urges residents and interested parties to review the allowable uses for ARPA funds.

"Oh I have a lot of things to say," said Port Arthur native Hilton Kelley.

Kelley has long been a voice for improvement in Port Arthur.

"It's overdue, and $18 million seems like a lot of money, but when you're talking about replacing pipelines and sewer lines and what have you, it can go pretty fast,” Kelley said. “But just to know we are getting a start on this process is a major plus."

He was happy to see that the west side of Port Arthur where he grew up is in store for improvements.

"I really hope that they spend this money wisely, particularly in that area, to help create a safer, healthier life for those citizens because that's the only land that they have, they can’t afford to go anywhere else," Kelley said.

$2 of the $26 million are allocated for the west end, along with $18 million for water and sewer improvements.

"I’m totally ecstatic. I’m excited," said Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie.

Bartie said the projects were decided on by the city.

"I think if the citizens look at each of these line items at what this money will be spent on, I don't think we could get opposition," Bartie said.

But he said the hearing is important and will be taken seriously.

"A great number of citizens will come to this public hearing and voice their opinions in opposition, and that would cause us to go back and rethink," Bartie said.

Kelley said he is hopeful that the city remains transparent with the projects.

"I think it was laid out this way to have a public comment period and input for the community to make sure that there’s transparency and to make sure that they are on track with how money is being spent and to make sure they know people are watching," Kelley said.

Kelley said he hopes this money sparks a lasting change in his community.

"Let’s try to stick to exactly what the American Rescue Plan Act was designed to do, is to help those moderate to low income communities that have been marginalized and underserved for years,” Kelley said. “Let’s build those communities back up and make people in those areas whole again."

The proposed list of projects includes:

  • Recovered Rev Loss-Govt Services: $1 million
  • Water and Sewer Infrastructure Improvements: $18 million
  • Landfill Dirt Project: $2 million
  • Broadband WIFI for Parks: $1 million
  • Health Department Vaccination Center: $2 million
  • Westside Drainage Improvement (17th & 19th): $2 million
  • Grant Management/Admin Costs: $630 thousand

The governing body invites everyone to attend the public hearing and share input on the listed ARPA priorities. 

In addition to allowing in-person attendance, a quorum of the city council will be physically present in the City Council Chamber on the 5th floor of City Hall at 444 4th St.

The public may participate in person or by dialing one of the toll-free numbers:

(877) 853-5247 US Toll-Free

(888) 788-0099 US Toll-Free

After dialing, you'll need to enter the meeting ID: 827 4050 8432 and passcode: 570369

In compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the City Of Port Arthur will provide reasonable accommodations for persons attending city council meetings. Requests should be received 24 hours prior to the meeting. You can contact the city's secretary’s office at (409) 983-8115.

You can watch live at  http://www.portarthurtx.gov/ > City Government> Watch Live City Council Meetings.

From a City of Port Arthur news release: 

Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Port Arthur will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. via Telephonic & Videoconference for the purpose of obtaining public input regarding the City of Port Arthur's acceptance of federal funds earmarked from the American Rescue Plan Act. The total estimated award is $26,630,000.The United States Treasury Department requires that a public hearing be held for the receipt of federal funds pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act. This hearing shall be held for the purpose of providing an opportunity for the public to offer comment on the acceptance of the funds. The City of Port Arthur urges residents and interested parties to review the allowable uses for ARPA funds. The City seeks to receive public input to consider uses for the funds, which includes the proposed list of projects: Recovered Rev Loss-Govt Services, Water and Sewer Infrastructure Improvements, Landfill Dirt Project, Broadband Wifi for Parks, Health Department Vaccination Center, Westside Drainage Improvement (17th & 19th), Grant Management/Admin Costs. Total ARPA Improvements are $26,630,000. The governing body is inviting you to attend the public hearing and share your input on the listed ARPA priorities.

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