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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
FairfaxVienna looks for ways to spend windfall of COVID cash

Vienna looks for ways to spend windfall of COVID cash

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Vienna Town Council members on Aug. 30 unanimously approved an amendment worth $9,106,341 for the town’s fiscal year 2022 budget, but the big discussion on how to spend a windfall in federal pandemic-related funds still is a few weeks off.

The bulk of the funds – slightly more than $8.55 million – come courtesy of Congress, which passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) on March 11.

The Vienna town government is scheduled within the next two years to receive $17.1 million in ARPA funds in two equal installments. Town officials on June 28 received the first payment, which they will put in a special revenue fund, and are slated to accept the second tranche of funding a year later.

Council members did not discuss specifics at the public hearing on what they would like to see done with the ARPA funds, but will delve into the matter at a Sept. 20 work session.


The funds are designed to help localities continue urgent COVID-19 responses, decrease the spread of the virus and control the pandemic, said Finance Director Marion Serfass.

ARPA moneys may replace lost revenues for eligible state, local, territorial and tribal governments in order to strengthen support for vital public services and retain jobs, Serfass said.

Such funds also may be used for economic aid to households and businesses, and address systemic public-health and economic challenges brought about by the pandemic, she said.

ARPA money only can be spent on specific things and this does not include some services supplied by Fairfax County, such as schools, public-health initiatives and libraries, Serfass said.

Vienna may use ARPA funds to respond to the public-health emergency and its negative economic impacts. U.S Treasury Department officials said this would include things such as capital improvements to adapt public buildings to mitigate the pandemic and maintain park space, which has seen increased usage as the public has sought outdoor recreation during the crisis, Serfass said.

The town also may provide premium pay to its public-safety and sanitation workers and give grants to private employers for their essential workers.
In addition, Vienna officials may use ARPA funds to pay for investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, Serfass said.

Robert McCahill, president of the North East Vienna Citizens Association, told the Council he would like to see some of the ARPA moneys put toward water-and-sewer infrastructure projects. Doing so would free up funds to purchase equipment that would be used to collect and remove leaves from town residences in the fall and avoid sending them to the Beulah Road mulching facility, he said.

“The idea is that the purchased capital equipment would be much more efficient than the current method and the town would enjoy a stream of cost-services savings into the future,” McCahill said.

McCahill also urged the Council to use some ARPA funds to mitigate the town’s long-running parking problems.

A small portion of the Council’s newly approved budget amendment, $554,610, relates to supplemental appropriations for purchase orders from fiscal 2021 that were not completed when the fiscal year ended June 30.

Vendors involved with those contracts, and the amounts of money involved, include ZoneCo ($128,400), Cox Communications ($123,300), National Asphalt ($113,000), Human Circuit ($96,400 and $59,650), Superior Paving ($19,850), Streetsense Consulting ($12,200) and Treetop Projects ($1,810).

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