Southwick will have limited use for ARPA funds

SOUTHWICK — American Rescue Plan Act funds designated for Southwick will be used for Department of Public Works and Board of Health projects, as Southwick is considered a community with a limited use for those funds.

Chief Administrative Officer Karl J. Stinehart told the Finance Committee on Sept. 28 that ARPA funds can be used for non-roadway DPW projects, to bolster the public health response against COVID-19, and to mitigate lost revenue. He said Southwick will likely not need to make up lost revenue, because the town was not impacted the same way larger communities like Springfield or Boston were.

“We didn’t have parking meters, we didn’t have meals taxes, we didn’t have occupancy taxes. We didn’t have any of those types of add-ons other communities do, so we didn’t end up losing those types of funds,” said Stinehart.

One specific project that will use ARPA funds is a Board of Health initiative to replace water fountains in public buildings with touchless water bottle refill stations. Standard drinking fountains are a possible vector for the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses, but bottle refill stations would theoretically cut down on that risk.

ARPA funds will also be used for DPW projects such as water line and sewer pump station improvements. Public Works Director Randy Brown is expected to appear before the Select Board and lay out the specific project ideas that could be funded through ARPA.

He said Southwick has already received two installments totaling $1.45 million, with two more installments expected in 2022.

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