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Report to the Guilford Selectboard on the Awarding of ARPA Funds from the Guilford ARPA Advisory Committee 

December 9, 2022 

I. Overview and Charge 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Guilford, like nearly every community across the nation,  is the recipient of federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. Guilford’s total allotment is  $633,091.14. These funds can be used for a variety of purposes in the community, ranging from  covering losses from COVID to making investments in the community’s future. Guilford’s Selectboard  developed a grant process in 2021, which awarded $74,695.00 to individual households and businesses  to cover previous losses. 

In May, 2022, Guilford’s Selectboard appointed a five-person Guilford ARPA Advisory Committee  (GAAC) to make recommendations on how to allocate the remaining funds of $558,396.14. The  committee members are all volunteers of Guilford, representing a range of backgrounds and  perspectives. They are: Jaime Durham (chair), Dan Killay (secretary), Patty Bullock, Julie Holland, and  Vickie Sterling. Selectboard liaisons to the committee are Zon Eastes and Verandah Porche.  

The report that follows has been prepared by the GAAC in response to the following charge given by the  Guilford Selectboard on June 1, 2022.  

Committee charge 

The purpose of the ARPA Advisory Committee is to advise the Guilford Selectboard  about a list of projects and/or investments for which federal ARPA funds should be  committed.  

The ARPA Advisory Committee shall gather community input, developing intake and  review processes to determine best uses for ARPA funds, all in keeping with federal  guidelines as well as the best interest of the entire community. 

The specific goals of the Committee’s work: 

  • To ensure that the Committee is guided by available community resources 
    • previously submitted grant proposals for community investment 
    • the 2022 DRAFT Town Plan  
    • Finance Advisory Committee meetings in October 2021 
    • the 2013 Vermont Council on Rural Development Community Visit 
    • community support materials developed by VLCT 
    • appropriate regional planning documents 

To gather and review community needs assessments  

To develop a communications strategy that provides opportunity to gather input from the  entire community.  

Preferred Timeline: The Committee’s recommendations are due to the Selectboard by  Wed, Nov. 30, 4 p.m.

DRAFT Guilford ARPA Advisory Committee Report to Guilford Selectboard, December 2022 1 

The only change to the above charge during the GAAC’s process was a report deadline extension to  December 16th, per a decision made at the November 8, 2022 GAAC meeting to allow more time for  research and writing this report.  

II. Process 

The first meeting of the GAAC was on June 1, 2022. The focus for the first months was on reviewing  the existing available community resources, including previously submitted ARPA grant applications,  the 2022 Draft Town Plan, the minutes from relevant Guilford Financial Advisory Committee meetings  from 2021, and community support materials developed by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns  (VLCT). Former Guilford resident and current Director of VLCT’s Federal Funding Assistance  Program, Katie Buckley, served as a valuable resource on ARPA federal funding guidelines throughout  the process.  

On August 3, 2022, the GAAC created the following 3-phase process to meet the above charge: 

  • Phase I. Seek Community Input about Potential Uses for ARPA Dollars, August 1 –September 6
  • Phase II. Survey the Community, September 7 – October 20 
  • Phase III. Evaluate Survey Data and Report to Selectboard, October 20 – November 30 

In Phase I, the GAAC reached out to the townspeople to create a comprehensive list of potential funding  projects. Outreach included the creation of a website with info on the GAAC’s process  (https://guilfordvt.gov/american-rescue-plan-act-arpa/) and an email address (arpa@guilfordvt.gov) to  receive ideas and questions. Additionally, GAAC members set up booths outside of a polling place of  the August 22 primary, and at the Guilford Fair, to collect ideas in Phase I, speaking to upwards of 150  people.  

In Phase II, the GAAC grouped the ideas into six categories, and sent out a survey to everybody in  Guilford (online and in print) asking them to spread an imaginary $100 among the six categories. The  six categories and the survey results are detailed in the next section.  

In Phase III, the GAAC analyzed the survey results and followed up with individual projects to  determine viability and eligibility for funding. On the advice of Katie Buckley, criteria for viability  included whether the project had done due diligence in researching alternate funding sources besides  these ARPA dollars. This report is the outcome of this process.  

III. Survey Results 

In August, 2022, the GAAC grouped all of the ideas gathered in Phase I and the ideas for projects from  the existing community resources (e.g. the 2014 Vermont Council on Rural Development Report among  others listed above) into the following six categories: 

  • Basic Living Needs (spending to increase housing availability and food security in Guilford)
  • Climate Resilience (spending to help our town in the face of long-term climate change)
  • Community Spaces and Outdoor Recreation (spending to increase and/or enhance gathering  spaces and recreational opportunities in Guilford) 
  • Emergency Preparedness (spending to improve our ability to respond to emergencies)
  • Household and Business Financial Assistance (spending to support households and businesses  negatively affected by COVID) 
  • Town Infrastructure (spending to improve town-maintained buildings and infrastructure) 

Residents of Guilford were then surveyed on how they would spend an imaginary $100 among these six
categories. 379 residents responded, and the results were as follows:

When applied to actual amount of ARPA dollars available ($558,396.14), these percentages indicate the  following per category amounts: 

IV. Projects to Fund 

The list of ideas gathered during Phases I and II of the GAAC’s process was analyzed by the committee  to determine which projects should be recommended for funding based on the following primary  parameters: 

  • Is the project eligible for funding per the ARPA eligibility guidelines?  
  • Does the project serve the community?  
  • Has the project researched alternative sources of funding?  
  • Is the project viable? (E.g., does it have a sound operating budget? Is it ready to go?) 

Based on this analysis and the survey results, the GAAC recommends that ARPA dollars are allotted as  is described in the following three categories. The first category (A) indicates projects that should  clearly be funded now. The second category (B) indicates projects of note that should be funded once  the indicated steps are taken. The third category (C) indicates additional projects and ideas that are still  very much speculative, but should be considered for funding by the Selectboard, if there are remaining  funds, and the projects are determined eligible and viable. Because there are a number of projects in  categories B and C, and a number of funds still on the table for these categories, it is hereby  recommended that the Selectboard appoint a subcommittee to assist with the determination beyond this  report. It is also recommended that the Selectboard and the subcommittee work closely with the  Planning Commission to determine the best use of the remaining funds.  

A. Projects to Fund Now

Organization and  ProjectDescription and Notes Amount to  Fund
Broad Brook  Community Center  – GeneratorThe Broad Brook Community Center (BBCC) requested  $48,717 to pay for the generator, which is required by the fire  marshal for building occupancy. The BBCC has received  numerous grants and significant community funding over its 8- year $2.3 million capital campaign, and this generator is the last  piece requiring funding. Four out of five GAAC members  agreed to fund this project, with one member abstaining. The  contact person is Rick Zamore (rick.zamore@gmail.com).$48,717
Energy Committee  – Window InsertsGuilford’s Energy Committee requested $1,000 to install  window inserts in Guilford’s library. The GAAC unanimously  agreed to fund this project. The contact person is Nancy Detra  (ndetra53@gmail.com). $1,000
Fire Department – School GeneratorThe Guilford Volunteer Fire Department (GVFD) requested  $52,375 for a generator for the school. The Guilford School is an  emergency shelter for the Town. Four out of five GAAC  members agreed to fund this project, with the fifth member  abstaining. The actual cost of the generator should be confirmed  with the contact before awarding. It is also recommended that  the GVFD possibly partner with the BBCC (above) to explore  possible cost savings by purchasing multiple generators together. It should also be confirmed that no alternate funding sources are available. The contact person is Jared Bristol (jbbristol@comcast.net). $52,375
Fire Department – RadiosThe Guilford Volunteer Fire Department requested $121,305.90  for digital radio equipment for their trucks. A FEMA grant was  applied for to cover the cost of stationary units in each truck, and  this remaining amount would cover the portable units. Three out  of five GAAC members agreed to fund this project, with one  maybe, and a fifth member abstaining. The actual cost of the  units should be confirmed with the contact before awarding. It  should also be confirmed that no alternate funding sources are  available. The contact person is Jared Bristol  (jbbristol@comcast.net). The original request from the Fire  Department for the radios can be found in Appendix A, as it  provides a helpful description of the need for the radios. $121,305.90
Guilford  Community  Church – Guilford  Community Park  ProjectThe Guilford Community Church requested $20,000 for the  construction of the Guilford Community Park Project. The  project has confirmed grants from the Thomas Thompson Trust  (a $25,000 completion grant), and the Better Places grant  program (a $40,000 two-to-one matching grant), and has raised  upwards of $50,000 from the community. The $20,000 requested  would fill their funding gap. The Guilford Community Park  project, while on church property, is a public park, and so is eligible for funding from ARPA. It should be noted in any  agreement documents that the park need to remain public and  not exclusionary in any way to receive the ARPA funds. The  GAAC unanimously agreed to fund this project. Supporting  documents for this project can be found in Appendix A of this  report. The contact person is Dunham Rowley  (dunham.rowley@gmail.com).$20,000
Guilford  Recreation Club – FairgroundsThe Guilford Recreation Club requested $25,350 for the  revitalization of the recreational opportunities at the Guilford  Fairgrounds, including rehabbing the basketball and tennis  courts. The GAAC unanimously agreed to fund this project. The  contact person is Elly Majonen (emajonen@gmail.com).$25,350
Town of Guilford – DV FiberThe Town requested $30,000 toward the DV Fiber project,  which DV Fiber will use as a match to leverage one-to-one state  funding. The GAAC unanimously agreed to fund this project.$30,000
Town of Guilford  – Grant WriterThe Town of Guilford requested funding to hire a grant writer.  The GAAC has determined, along with the advice of Katie  Buckley, that this would be a prudent expenditure, as there is a  once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in terms of the number of grants  and funds available through ARPA and other sources, largely as  a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Note that the grant writer  should be hired only once specific grants are identified. The  research to determine which grants to apply for should be done by an employee or volunteer for the Town (i.e., the research should not be done by the grant writer). TBD, allowance of  $20,000
Town of Guilford  – Strategic  Planning  ConsultantThe Planning Commission of the Town of Guilford requested  $45,000 for a strategic planner. The GAAC has not discussed the  awarding of these funds, but it has been discussed in length by  the Planning Commission, and is included here per the request of  the Selectboard. $45,000
Town of Guilford  – WebsiteThe Town requested funds around $7,000 to pay for  improvements to the Town’s website. The GAAC unanimously  agreed not only to fund this, but to increase the award amount to ensure this project gets ample attention, especially as the “Town  Infrastructure” category received the highest allotment in the  survey. $10,000
Total to Fund Now $373,747.90

Of the $558,396.14 available, the GAAC recommends awarding $373,747.90 as detailed above, leaving  a remaining $184,648.24.  

The GAAC advises that the remaining $184,648.24 is awarded using the following guidelines.

B. Projects of Note Deserving of Funding 

ARPA funds can be used as a match for grants, and this is an excellent way to stretch our dollars. It is  therefore recommended that requests for matching grants supporting any of the below projects be  prioritized. 

Organization and  ProjectDescription and Step to Funding
Guilford Historical  Society – Meeting  House CeilingThe Guilford Meetinghouse is in need of repair, and ARPA dollars could be  used for this project. No request or project cost was submitted to the GAAC. The  History Society is actively fundraising, and should be contacted regarding the  potential use of ARPA funds. Members of the Society are: Richard Austin, Scott  Knickerboxer, Jim Henry, Henry Evans, Nancy Evan, Erin Tkaczyk, Paul  Marks, Chuck Collins, Carol Stack, Gilbert Ruff, and Diane Frost. 
Guilford  Preservation Inc. – Housing  Feasibility Study This project also falls under Basic Needs, as housing is a clear basic need.  Guilford Preservation Inc. (GPI) has the only current potentially viable housing  project in Guilford that the GAAC is aware of. In January, 2022, GPI requested  $50,000 from Guilford’s ARPA funds to pay for a housing feasibility study done by Windham Windsor Housing Trust for a development in Algiers on acreage  purchased by GPI, along with the Vermont Land Trust. Details on this project  can be found in Appendix A. The Selectboard, Planning Commission, and / or  appointed subcommittee should work with Jean Eastman  (eastmandf@gmail.com) to follow up and move this project forward using  ARPA funds if necessary. Note GPI has already been advised by the GAAC to  look into funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and they  are reportedly doing so. 
Neighborhood  Roots Food  CollectiveThis project would clearly benefit the community, and is eligible for ARPA  funding. They requested $88,500 for capital improvements to their property on  Autumn Hill Drive. The Selectboard and / or appointed subcommittee should  work with Julie Beet (julie@neighborhoodroots.org) as soon as possible to  determine viability and eligibility. Additional information on this project can be  found in Appendix A. Note that the survey allotted $117,263.19 towards Basic  Needs, and there are no projects in the first category above (A. Projects to Fund  Now) that pull from this pot. This project would fall under Basic Needs. 
War Memorial Patty Bullock of the GAAC has been looking into the costs of a new War  Memorial in Guilford, which is currently estimated at $30k-$40k without  installation. The GAAC unanimously supports this project, and recommends  using ARPA dollars to fund it, if additional funds are available, alternative grant  sources have been exhausted, and the project is deemed viable. The Selectboard  and / or subcommittee should follow up with Patty (bullockrp@comcast.net). 

C. Additional Projects and Ideas to Consider 

As mentioned in section (B), but also applicable here, ARPA funds can be used as a match for grants,  and this is an excellent way to stretch our dollars. It is therefore recommended that requests for matching  grants supporting any of the below projects be prioritized. 

Idea / Project Description
Bike path In Phase I, the GAAC determined that there is resident interest in a bike path. 
Childcare Childcare is over and over again deemed a need by people in Guilford. There are  no projects requesting funding for childcare, but this report would be remiss to  not mention it. Dana Berry of CC4G shared at the Financial Advisory  Committee meeting in October, 2021, that the organization is focused on  providing childcare, but has no land or facility. Katie Buckley suggested the  effort might go towards reaching out to other local established childcare  organizations (e.g., Winston Prouty) to see if they might provide a service to  Guilford children. ARPA dollars could potentially support this, but the path  forward is unclear. The Selectboard and / or subcommittee should continue to  pay attention to this ongoing issue, do further research into the actual needs and  any existing data, and stay attuned to ways it might be supported financially by  ARPA or otherwise, whether that be by supporting CC4G, helping expand  Winston Prouty’s services, or supporting some hereto unknown project. 
EV charging  stations and solar  arrays (on public  buildings esp.)Funding for climate resilience is a clear priority for the people of Guilford, with  17% of the total funds from the survey being allotted to this category, or a total  of $94,927.34. From the above sections (A and B), only $1,000 in ARPA funds  is currently recommended for funding within climate resilience. Given the  interest in climate resilience, and the lack of existing viable projects requesting  funding, the GAAC recommends that the Selectboard, Planning Commission,  and / or subcommittee research the use of ARPA funds for EV charging stations  and solar arrays, especially on public buildings. Note that alternate funding sources are available and should be explored before committing any of the Town’s ARPA funds. Specific funding sources to be explored are ACT 172 funding (https://bgs.vermont.gov/municipal-energy-resilience-program) and forthcoming EVSE grants through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. 
Guilford Cares Guilford Cares is an established Guilford nonprofit that in the past has expressed  a need for space. It is unclear whether or not this need still exists, given their  partnership with the Broad Brook Community Center. The Selectboard and / or  subcommittee should reach out to Guilford Cares (Leah Gessner – guilfordcaresvt@gmail.com or leahgessner@gmail.com) if there are additional  ARPA funds available which might assist Guilford Cares. 
Housing Housing is an undeniable need not only in our community but across the nation.  Any support that the Selectboard and Planning Commission can give to new  housing, repurposing and/or renovating and/or weatherizing existing housing,  should be explored, with or without ARPA dollars. 
Traffic calming (in  Algiers esp.), and  beautification  throughout Town  centersThe Friends of Algiers have continuously worked to enhance public access in  Algiers, and their work should be supported by ARPA dollars if there are funds  available and any projects are deemed viable. The Selectboard and / or  subcommittee should stay attuned especially to any project that might support  traffic calming and beautification in Town centers. 

V. Conclusion 

The Guilford ARPA Advisory Committee has been given a wonderful question to address – how should  Guilford best use over half a million dollars to serve our community? These ARPA dollars, along with  other federal funding opportunities available in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, represent a once in-a-lifetime opportunity for Guilford residents to improve our community. The Vermont League of  Cities and Towns states that the decision to award ARPA dollars should “prepare your community for  the next disaster, position future generations for success, and whenever possible, help grow your Grand  List.” As such, the GAAC believes that the best way for Guilford to use our ARPA dollars is as advised  in the above report.  

Thanks are due to Katie Buckley, of VLCT (and formerly but more importantly, of Guilford!), for her  invaluable advice and guidance in this process. Thanks also to Sheila Morse, Verandah Porche, and Zon  Eastes for their support in organizing and supporting this committee’s work.  

The Guilford ARPA Advisory Committee appreciates that the Selectboard appointed them and started  this process, and recognizes that this was a choice and not a requirement for the Selectboard to  determine how to award the ARPA dollars. The decision to appoint an ARPA Advisory Committee for  this process is a representation of the transparency and community spirit that is foundational in  Guilford’s governance.  

Respectfully submitted by the Guilford ARPA Advisory Committee: