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Goshen officials outline priorities for American Rescue Plan funding

Screenshot captured via Zoom

The Goshen Common Council passed a resolution Tuesday outlining how the city wants to spend its American Rescue Plan funding.

Goshen received nearly $6.7 million from the federal COVID relief act, and the vast majority – about $5.1 million – will go to infrastructure projects. 


That could include improvements to water and wastewater systems, but city officials are waiting for the federal infrastructure bill to pass before proposing specific projects. 


The second-largest allocation is $700,000 for homeless services and substance abuse and behavioral health treatment. 


The city wants to hire a full-time Homeless Outreach Coordinator to “directly engage homeless individuals, assess their needs and coordinate the provision of services.” The position would be supervised by the Goshen Police Department.


“They have an individual who is an officer who has a great deal of experience working with the homeless population,” Deputy Mayor Mark Brinson said at the council meeting Tuesday. “They would also work with local agencies in delivering services – so this is not an enforcement role, this is actually a service role to the community.”


The position would be funded by ARP dollars for three years and re-evaluated at the end of that period to determine if the program should continue.


The city will also partner with the Elkhart County Health Department to contract with local mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, with particular focus on opioid and methamphetamine addiction services.


The city earmarked $300,000 for local nonprofits, with priority given to organizations dealing with food insecurity, childcare for low-income families, homelessness, revenue loss or connecting residents to health services. 


A total of $150,000 will go to public art projects “to respond to the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” and “assist local artists in recovering from the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 


“It also helps improve the look of the town,” Brinson said. “It also attracts visitors which supports our tourism industry, which was also hit hard by the pandemic.” 


The Goshen Public Library will receive $100,000 to buy new public computers, which Brinson said “got a lot of use during the pandemic.”


The city also earmarked $200,000 for ventilation improvements to public buildings and $100,000 for vaccine incentives for city employees. The city plans to form a grant advisory committee to review and score applications for ARP grants.


Mayor Jeremy Stutsman said the estimates in the funding plan are a good representation of the city’s priorities, but they could change as projects get underway. 


“We could come back to the council and say, ‘Okay, we’ve got $150,000 from this that we don’t think we’ll be able to spend by the deadline. Do you want to shift that into utilities? Do you want to shift that into behavioral health?” he said. “We can have those conversations.”


The city has until the end of 2024 to obligate ARP funds and until the end of 2026 to fully spend them. The city received the first half of its funding this May and incorporated it into the 2022 budget.


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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