LUBBOCK, Texas — Local leaders are working this week to decide how to allocate the $116 million the city and county will collectively receive through the American Rescue Plan. Lubbock County says they will open up applications for some of the money to the public in October.
“That is one of the prime purposes of the ARPA money, is to help the community,” Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said. “We know that many in our community were adversely affected by COVID over the last 18 months. This money is designed to make up that difference.”
Lubbock County will receive $60.2 million through the relief plan, and the City of Lubbock will receive $56.6 million. The city says this is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in various areas.
“This is a real blessing to get these many dollars with the flexibility and the time we have,” Lubbock City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said. “This is significant funding. I’ve been in this business over 25 years and I’ve never seen an opportunity like this come through.”
The city has held public listening sessions in their preliminary steps to allocate these funds, but they do not yet know if they will invite the public to formally apply for funds. The city has identified six main areas to target. They include:
- Public safety
- Critical infrastructure (water, sewers, storm drains)
- Neighborhood recovery and revitalization
- Community support services
- Job training and economic development
- Arts, non-profits, and small businesses
The city has already spent $14 million in ARPA funds to build a new $8.1 million public health center and purchase over 60 new vehicles for the fire department and the police department.
“We don’t have a purpose-built public health facility today,” Mr. Atkinson said. “We have [Lubbock Public Health] stationed in a very old office building. It’s not really set up as a clinic room, exam room, [or for] vaccinations, testing… just that first $8.1 million that has been committed to that building… will put us in much better shape.”
Mr. Atkinson also said the city hopes to save some of this money until the 2024 allocation deadline to prepare for any unexpected downturns in the pandemic.
The county is targeting similar areas and plans to offer an application process to small businesses, non-profits, and arts organizations in October.
“We have an opportunity to support our arts community. Lubbock is very well known for our arts, cultural, and entertainment venues. Those took a big hit in 2020,” Parrish said.
The county also said it may use some funds to help neighboring rural counties to invest in broadband infrastructure and firefighting services.
“Some of our rural counties are struggling in getting internet to rural areas, so now we have an opportunity to partner with our fellow counties in West Texas and maybe help them out too,” Parrish said.
All money must be allocated by December 31st, 2024, and all money must be spent by December 31, 2026. Judge Parrish said he plans to spend every dollar.
“My number one priority is to not send one penny of this back to Washington,” Judge Parrish said. “If we don’t allocate this money… they will just send it to Philadelphia, or Los Angeles, or some other community. We will absolutely spend this money for Lubbock, in Lubbock, for the people of Lubbock.”