NCLM Southern City, Volume 73, Issue 4 2023

NCLM and the American Rescue Plan: Services, Support, and a Thriving Future for North Carolina JACK CASSIDY AND ISABELLA MORMANDO THE LEAGUE’S ARP SERVICE LINE IS MORE THAN JUST AN ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO HELP IN THE SHORT TERM. IT’S A NETWORK OF SUPPORT THAT WILL ASSIST OUR CITIES AND TOWNS FOR MANY YEARS TO COME. BACKGROUND When defined closely, the American Rescue Plan is simply a federal law—or more accurately, aid package—that provided financial support to many sectors around the country, including local governments. In North Carolina, the amount received by cities and towns totaled more than $1.3 billion. Looked at from a historical perspective, though, the uniqueness of the law comes into focus. It’s not a typical aid package. Never before have all municipalities received direct financial support. For those that have received support in the past, it was almost certainly less or more limited than what was received previously, but for many smaller localities, ARP stands as the first time they’ve received an appropriation from the federal government. The rarity sets the stage. This has not happened before, and this will likely not happen again. What has emerged through this one-time situation, however, is impact that will extend far beyond a single moment. City investments have been far reaching, both in size and timeline; our communities are building foundations that will last generations; cities are engaging their citizens in new and effective ways, and are engaging each other, too, through arrangements that are promoting regional investments; and supporting it all is a robust apparatus of support and partnerships, lifting up every town in this state. The North Carolina League of Municipalities has become a key component of this larger ARP network. Behind every decision, there is legal guidance and information sharing from the League, and for towns new to receiving federal funds, there is stepby-step direction on how to administer the funds. The full list of services being offered by the League is all-encompassing: legal, accounting, planning, engineering, communications, grant writing, and administration guidance. Through the League’s work with local governments for over 100 years, we know one thing for certain: when cities and towns get the support they need, they get the job done. The American Rescue Plan presented an opportunity for all 540plus municipalities in North Carolina to showcase that very fact. STAFF To support cities’ ARP efforts, the NC General Assembly provided a generous allocation of its own ARP dollars to the NC League of Municipalities. The directive was to stand up a support system that would assist towns with every facet of the American Rescue Plan. That aimed-for support system has become the NCLM ARP Service Line, and running that service line is NCLM’s ARP Team. “All of our towns know what investments are needed in their communities, but there are understandable challenges with limitations like staff capacity, budget constraints or just inexperience with federal funding,” said Chris Nida, NCLM’s Director of Technical Assistance to Cities, who oversees the League’s ARP Team. “Our service line fills in those gaps and provides constant support. We’re bringing them past those limitations.” An expansive staff of dedicated public servants, numbering 24 in total, the ARP Team includes former town managers, finance officers, government budget professionals, fellows from the UNC Lead for North Carolina program, and a host of REGIONAL MAP—ARP FIELD REPRESENTATIVES  Regina Mathis:  Charles Hines:  Richard Marvin:  Pam Hurdle:  Paarth Mehta: SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 24