The city of Newport has received the first installment of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021.

The money became available July 26. To avoid audit findings regarding commingling of funds, the $772,214.19 is in a separate checking account. According to information made available by City Clerk Deborah Hembrey, the city is awaiting issuance of the final rules from the Federal Reserve on the allowable expenditures for the funds.

According to the web site for the U.S. Treasury Department, recipients may use these funds to:

Support public health expenditures, by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff.

Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector.

Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic.

Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.

Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet.

“Within these overall categories, recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of their communities,” said the web page covering ARP fund uses.

City Attorney John Pettie announced he is running for Prosecuting Attorney, and therefore he will not be able to run for City Attorney in the next election.

Pettie said he brought the matter to the council’s attention to give time to consider its options for the position in the future.

The Council also learned that several concrete street repairs are in the process of completion around Newport. The areas include McLain Street at Highway 69, Holden Avenue and two areas in the Galleria addition. The Highway Fuel Tax Grant, of $250,000 (scheduled to begin this fall), will help cover including Elm, Vine, Pine, Ash, Fourth, Fifth, short Sixth, Hirsch, Washington, Lafayette and Grant Streets.

The council also approved a request from the Arkansas Department of Independence to waive $1,830 in city building fees on the project for a new day program facility.

Along those lines the city recorded sales taxes received in July 2021 as follows:

City Sales Taxes – $158,104

County Sales Taxes – $91,094

NEDC Sales Taxes – $79,052

And the council voted to reappoint Mark Ellis to the Newport Airport Commission with a term expiring Sept. 30, 2026, and Kathy Robinson to the Newport Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

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