While the numbers are not yet confirmed for sure, the Falls Church City Council heard Monday night that the Little City may be due for an extraordinary infusion of $18 million in federal aid dollars to help its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
More accurate numbers are due later this week, the Council learned, but the estimate based on federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds already dispatched to the Commonwealth of Virginia intended to be passed through to localities indicate that $15 million in those funds are destined for Falls Church, in two equal tranches over two years. That is in addition to $2.89 million the City will get in federal CARES Act dollars, also coming in two tranches.
“This is a staggering amount of money,” said Council member Ross Litkenhous Monday, by comparison with the City’s annual operating budget that is just over $100 million. “It presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to provide relief from families ravaged by the impact of the pandemic and also to shore up the City’s infrastructure that was weakened by the effect of the 14-month hiatus the pandemic caused.
“Our challenge will be to provide recurring value to our citizens,” added Council member Letty Hardi. “It will have a transformational impact.”
City officials are now studying the 151 pages of federal guidance on how the relief funds can be spent. The ARPA funds will come to the City based on a request from the City that will need to be debated with public hearings later in the summer, Deputy City Manager Cindy Mester said.