The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, a $350 billion federal COVID-19 relief fund to support economic recovery for states, counties and cities.
Tomball City Manager David Esquivel said he submitted a list of recommendations to City Council to use the funds in three areas: kickstarting the tourism industry, reimbursing lost revenue for the marketing department, and addressing water and sewer projects.
“The pandemic impacts are widespread, so a lot of [sectors of the city] felt it, so we feel that these funds are intended not just for what is good for one sector of the city, but more so what’s good for the community,” Esquivel said.
Esquivel’s recommendations include providing grants for nonprofits hit hard by the pandemic, improving the Historic Depot Plaza and replacing lost revenue from the city’s hotel occupancy tax revenue fund.
Magnolia City Administrator Don Doering said the city plans to use most of its funds to address water and sewer needs. He said the city needs another well, which could cost between $1 million-$2 million, and needs to expand its wastewater treatment capacity, which could cost close to $84 million.
“We’re trying to utilize [the funds] the best we can to help the citizens and provide better services,” Doering said. Doering said the funds will be used as needed to address these issues. Esquivel, on the other hand, said Tomball plans to use the money as quickly as possible.
According to Esquivel, cities have until 2024 to come up with a plan to use the ARPA funds and need to spend the funds by 2026.