JUNE 29, 2021
At a WORK SESSION of the Town Council of the Town of South Kingstown, County of Washington, in the State of Rhode Island held via video- and tele-conference, in and for said Town on the 29th day of June 2021 at 6:30 PM.
PRESENT: TOWN COUNCIL
Abel G. Collins, President
Rory H. McEntee, Vice President
Deborah D. Bergner
Deborah J. Kelso
Jessica L. Rose
Also present: Theresa L. Murphy, Interim Town Manager; James Rabbitt, Director of Planning; and Colleen Camp, Executive Assistant.
The purpose of this evening’s meeting is to discuss applications submitted by human services and outside agencies for grant funding under the American Rescue Plan Act Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.
Theresa Murphy, Interim Town Manager reviews the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds established by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 through which the Town of South Kingstown will be eligible to receive funding to respond to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-entitlement aid is anticipated in the amount of $3 million, and the Town’s share of County-based aid is expected in the amount of $5.95 million for a total allocation of approximately $9 million.
Eligible uses for the funding include response to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality; response to workers performing essential work during the health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers; the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the pandemic; and to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. The federal funds cannot be used to offset tax revenues or to fund pensions.
The focus here is on Community Grants, which must link to the impact of COVID-19 in order to be eligible for funding. The municipality will be responsible for reporting the use of funds allocated and justifying them.
Jamie Rabbitt, Director of Planning reports that 18 non-profit groups have submitted applications to date. Discussion ensues relative to a timeframe for accepting applications, and it is consensus that applications be submitted by the deadline of Wednesday, July 21st so that they can be considered at the Town Council’s Public Hearing on Monday, July 26th.
The Interim Town Manager advises that the Town Council will need to designate the amount of funding available to non-profits, after which a more formal application and review process will be conducted. The Town Council needs time to process and staff needs time to develop evaluation criteria with regard to the community grant applications.
Mark Collins presents a request by the Chris Collins Foundation for $25,000 to support their youth-led programs aimed at helping students dealing with depression, anxiety, mental illness, and suicidal issues at the schools. They are seeking to expand to the Curtis Corner Middle School and into the community.
Councilwoman Rose asks where donations to their program can be collected, and indicates the question will be asked of all applicants.
Mary Roda presents two requests on behalf of the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRCSC). The first application for $64,400 is for their safe home program for victims of abuse seeking shelter to fund first and last months’ rent; housing in hotels for up to 21 days; an expressive arts therapist for children; and a counselor to assist with the increase in clients. The second application seeks $1,125,000 in funding to purchase another safe home targeted for single women.
Jason Colonies presents a request by the Education Exchange for $75,000 for their proposal to provide trainings to employees at South Kingstown restaurants to update ServSafe licenses and food handler certifications.
Kate Brewster presents a request by the Jonnycake Center for Hope for $250,000 to assist with the renovation of nine affordable housing units that will be devoted to local families. The total anticipated renovation costs are $575,000.
Erica Luke presents a request by the South County History Center, formerly the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, for $18,000 to provide interpretive signage at historic sites, and village photographic surveys to utilize the history of the community to support village revitalization, increase tourism and place-making. They are working with the Economic Development Committee on plans for the Saugatucket River area, and the Historic District Commission on design standards. Photos would be used to encourage historic restoration and renovation.
Christopher Little presents a request by the South Kingstown Housing Authority for a total of $650,000. A portion of the request is for $150,000 to fund consultants for master planning relative to a $30 million project for redevelopment of their facilities and housing. The remainder of the request is for $500,000 to fund 25% of the cost of constructing a community center to provide supportive services to public housing residents and the community at large.
Council President Collins comments on federal funding for public housing.
Joe Viele presents a request by the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce for $50,000 to assist their economic development and tourism related services. The Chamber has continued to provide membership to non-profits and other local businesses that have been unable to pay their dues. Since COVID-19 they have expanded and specialized their services, including advising members on obtaining government services. They have also been unable to hold fundraising events to support their 2 full-time and 2 part-time employees serving 600 members.
Lindsay Tanner presents a request by the Southern Rhode Island Volunteers for $8,000 to support their grocery shopping program for clientele that nearly tripled during COVID. In addition to providing meals on wheels for home bound seniors and grocery shopping, they provide transportation for medical care and are resuming visitation in-person services for senior citizens, veterans and disabled adults over the age of 55.
David Banno, Special Projects Director presents a request for the Tri Town Community Action Agency for $25,000 for their program to assist with payments of 10-20% of utility bills to prevent shut-offs and enable homeowners to get on a payment plan.
Joe “Tiger” Patrick, Commander presents a request by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 916 for $78,500 to enable them to install solar power at their facility where they operate a Veterans Service Office for Washington County. COVID exasperated the needs of veterans, and prevented the VFW from raising money by holding fund raisers and renting their facility. Solar power would reduce their utilities expenses, which account for 1/3 of their income, and allow them to provide more services.
Ken Burke presents a request by the Wakefield Village Association for $500,000 to repair and restore the municipal parking lots on Main Street behind Bell Block where outdoor activities and events are held; install a bicycle repair station; support the Riverfire basket replacement program and seating; make improvements along the Saugatucket River; and purchase stage and production equipment.
Bob Hicks presents a joint request by the Washington County Coalition for Children, Jonnycake Center for Hope, and Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County for $200,000 to fund a proposal for a three-year effort to establish a self-healing community program to deal with the impacts of adverse childhood experience, and build resilience.
Patricia Harmon is present on behalf of Neighbors Helping Neighbors and indicates that organization has not submitted an application yet, but would be seeking funding for their essential housing repair program.
Nessa Richman, Network Director presents a request by the RI Food Policy Council for $500,000 to fund a program to reduce the amount of food waste and save the cost of tipping fees at the RI Resource Recovery Center, and encourage climate resilience.
Council President Collins notes that ARP funds are designated to deal with the impacts of COVID, and suggests the program may be of interest to the Sustainability Committee.
Discussion ensues relative to setting July 21st as the deadline for agencies to submit applications for funding. The Town Council will determine the total amount that will be made available for community grants. Once the Town Council sets their budget, a formal application process will be implemented.
The Interim Town Manager summarizes that staff will review the applications, categorize them and assess any overlap with Town projects. The Town will identify the funding bucket amount, followed by a grant funding application process.
Adjourn at 9:01 PM.
Susan M. Flynn, CMC