Tomball City Council discusses potential uses for American Rescue Plan Act funding

One of the proposed uses of the American Rescue Plan Act funding is for improvements to the Tomball Historic Depot. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
One of the proposed uses of the American Rescue Plan Act funding is for improvements to the Tomball Historic Depot. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

One of the proposed uses of the American Rescue Plan Act funding is for improvements to the Tomball Historic Depot. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Tomball City Council discussed potential uses for the funding it received from the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes $350 billion of federal COVID-19 relief funds for cities, at its Jan. 3 meeting. Tomball will receive a total of $2.92 million, half of which it has already received, while the remaining half will come this year, City Manager David Esquivel said.

The proposed uses include providing grants to nonprofit organizations, replacing lost hotel occupancy tax revenue, improving the Tomball Historic Depot, and replacing the city’s water and gas meters. An agenda item to spend $1.7 million of the funds on replacing the meters was tabled at the meeting, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

Director of Public Works Beth Jones said the water and gas meters are a critical part of the city’s infrastructure. She said city staff focused on the project as something that could be addressed using ARPA funds.

“It was on our horizon as an impending challenge,” Jones said. “This really rose to the top.”

The funds proposed to replace the hotel tax revenue were calculated by subtracting the revenue received during the COVID-19 pandemic-affected years from the projected revenue the city would have received based on previous growth, Assistant City Manager Jessica Rogers said. The replacement of the funds would use more than $524,000 of the city’s allotted ARPA funds, according to a presentation to council.


The city also proposed using $100,000 to provide grants to nonprofit organizations. The remaining $527,437 would be used for improvements to the Tomball Historic Depot.

Rogers said the money allotted for improvements to the depot was simply what was leftover of the ARPA funding after budgeting for grants, hotel tax revenue replacement, and the water and gas meter replacements instead of for any specific project.

Council Member Chad Degges said he would rather see the city use regularly budgeted funds for improvements to the depot rather than ARPA funding. Degges said he would like to see if the city could use the funds to help small businesses and residents of the city.

“We didn’t have these projects... they weren’t on our to-do list that we have to do right now,” Degges said. “One of the things we can do is help households and small businesses.”

City Council did not approve any uses of the funds during the meeting. Esquivel said city staff would come back with resolutions to spend the funds at later council meetings.
By Chandler France

Reporter, Tomball/Magnolia

Chandler joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Southern California, where he was the executive editor of Annenberg Media. He previously interned with the company in Gilbert, AZ and with the Beacon Project, an investigative reporting team in Los Angeles. Chandler is originally from Laguna Hills, CA.