MANSFIELD -- Will $3 million in planned American Rescue Plan Act spending on an emergency storm sewer project make it easier for City Council to approve the next step in a long-debated dry dam project?
That's one of the key questions Mansfield lawmakers will answer Tuesday during a meeting heavily weighted with infrastructure proposals.
"Anything is possible," Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker said Thursday when that exact question was posed to him after he announced spending plans for $10.5 million in total ARPA funds.
The city has discussed the North Lake Park Dry dam project for several years, an effort that would remove more than 100 acres from the north end flood plain through the Touby Run Flood Mitigation Hazard Project
Put on the shelf a couple of years ago while a city-wide water meter replacement program began, it was resurrected in April when local north end business owners asked for an update on the project, originally estimated at $15.5 million to build.
Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a $1.5 million, two-year design/engineering project for the dry dam, legislation that would authorize city officials to hire an engineering firm for the work.
Some members have expressed concerns about depleting a sewer fund already being tapped this year and next for about $1.75 million to repair a collapsed, 19th century storm sewer between Third Street and Touby's Run.
Presumably, if City Council approves the mayor's ARPA spending plan, scheduled to be discussed during caucus on Tuesday and voted on Oct. 5, those emergency repairs would be covered by the federal dollars.
But even before that collapse, 3rd Ward Councilman Jon Van Harlingen led the charge regarding financial concerns, previously pointing out the city has taken on more than $50 million in bond debt in recent years, including $10 million for state-mandated improvements at the wastewater treatment plant and $35 million for state-mandated improvements at the water treatment plant.
Under the ARPA plan, Mansfield will receive about $21 million, half of which has been received with the second half coming in 2022.
According to Theaker's plan, his administration wants to spend nearly all $106,889 of the first year's allocation. In addition to the $3 million for water/sewer infrastructure, his plan calls for:
-- $5 million for COVID-19 revenue replacement, which would presumably replenish the city's general fund, a percentage allowed under the ARPA guidance. The mayor said usage for that money had not yet been decided.
-- $850,000 for "scan documents."
-- $642,636 for police radio replacement.
-- $325,000 for fire station COVID upgrades.
-- $60,000 to Catholic Charities for rental assistance.
-- $550,000 for business development, likely in the form of grants to businesses impacted by the pandemic.
All of those expenditures require council approval.
Council's evening is scheduled to begin Tuesday with a 6:15 public utilities committee meeting. A finance committee is planned for 6:30. Caucus starts at 7 p.m. and the legislative session following immediately after.