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.
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.
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 (email@example.com) 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 Project||Description and Notes||Amount to Fund|
|Broad Brook Community Center – Generator||The 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).||$48,717|
|Energy Committee – Window Inserts||Guilford’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 (email@example.com).||$1,000|
|Fire Department – School Generator||The 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).||$52,375|
|Fire Department – Radios||The 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 (email@example.com). 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 Project||The 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).||$20,000|
|Guilford Recreation Club – Fairgrounds||The 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 (email@example.com).||$25,350|
|Town of Guilford – DV Fiber||The 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 Writer||The 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 Consultant||The 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 – Website||The 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 Project||Description and Step to Funding|
|Guilford Historical Society – Meeting House Ceiling||The 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 Collective||This 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 (email@example.com) 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).|
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 – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 centers||The 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.|
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: