$13 Million in Stimulus Funds Earmarked for Winter Park

by Anne Mooney / May 11, 2021

Winter Park stands to receive almost $13 million in federal stimulus funds earmarked through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), providing us a rare opportunity to rebuild from the pandemic and to shape future programs.

Tomorrow’s Commission discussion is one you may want to tune into, as it could directly affect many people and organizations in Winter Park.

Commission will decide where to spend the money

At its Wednesday, May 12, meeting, the Commission will undertake to prioritize the allocation of ARP dollars, which they anticipate will arrive in two payments. The first payment of $7,426,723 should arrive this month, May 2021; the second payment in the same amount should come in May 2022. The ARP requires all funds to be expended by the end of 2024.

Some dollars are restricted

Although guidance from the Feds is oblique (surprise!), City staff estimates about $3 million may be spent on any purpose the City decides, as these funds are intended to replace losses incurred as a result of the pandemic. A suggestion in a federal document reads, in part: “(1)(A) “. . . assistance to households, small businesses, and non-profits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.”

The remaining $10 million will be subject to restrictions imposed by the legislation. Clearly allowed are transfers of funds to non-profits, economic development studies, water and sewer enhancements and internet improvements.

Other infrastructure dollars under discussion at the federal level

Less clear is whether the City can use these funds for transportation improvements. City staff is monitoring discussions at the federal level of a separate $2 trillion infrastructure bill, as that money could fund transportation improvements that are not eligible under the ARP.

Thoughts from the April 28 workshop

On April 28, the Commission held a workshop to discuss setting priorities for ARP funds. Funding that can only be spent on eligible categories fell into four broad categories: 1) recurring non-profit partners, excluding Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, 2) households and small businesses, 3) tourism, travel and hospitality, and 4) broadband.

Interesting among the categories was the discussion around “recurring non-profit partners.” First was the exclusion of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, which will still get its promised $100,000, but no extra money from the ARP pot of dollars.

Local organizations will receive extra ARP dollars

Commissioners discussed using the ARP funds to add 50 percent to current City funding levels for each of the following non-profits. For further detail and exact dollar amounts, click here: Local Organizations

Winter Park Public Library

Historical Association

United Arts

Polasek

Mead Garden

Winter Park Day Nursery

Blue Bamboo

Welbourne Day Nursery

Enzian Theater

Winter Park Playhouse

Depugh Nursing Home

Heritage Center (Crealde)

WPPL – just another non-profit?

The Winter Park Public Library, currently the recipient of the largest tranche of City dollars, could garner an additional $828,000 through the ARP – if it is treated the same as the other non-profits that receive City support. The question of whether or not to make the library a separate line item or to include it with the rest of the non-profits has yet to be answered.

“Apples and peaches,” says Weaver

“I would prefer the Commission discuss library funding from the ARP as a line item separate from the other non-profits,” said Commissioner Todd Weaver. “I don’t think we can compare the effect the pandemic had on the library with the effect it had on the other non-profits, which are dependent on sales or attendance at events. They are apples and peaches.”

Sullivan is of like mind.

“I am in favor of continuing the funding, which is approximately two-thirds of their budget,” said Commissioner Marty Sullivan. “However, it seems apparent that financial impact of COVID on the library would be less than on the other non-profits, because they already rely primarily on the City for their funding, whereas the others do not.”

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said she thought it might be a good idea to consult one of the City Advisory Boards as to the appropriate allocation of funds among these groups.

Tune in tomorrow to find out.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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