Lawrence Common Council to review ARPA funding proposal


The Lawrence Common Council held another short meeting May 1, lasting less than 10 minutes.

Two related items were on the agenda under new business, and both were referred to the council’s finance committee without any discussion.

The items are an ordinance to appropriate about $3 million from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, and a resolution specifying how those funds would be spent. Both were cosponsored by council members Sherron Freeman, District 3; and Tom Shevlot, District 5.

The City of Lawrence received about $11.2 million through the federal ARPA pandemic relief plan. In 2022, the city spent about $5.5 million on sewer and stormwater infrastructure, street paving, and other projects. The council decided in early March to move all remaining ARPA funds to the 2024 budget, to be spent on not-yet-identified projects.

The proposal now under consideration would amend the ARPA spending plan for specific projects. They are:

  • $1 million to match a recently awarded state grant for street improvements
  • $280,000 to match a grant for trail development and improvements
  • $1.6 million to replace public safety vehicles
  • About $50,000 for education and training, and facility repairs for the fire department
  • About $95,000 for police cameras, and for the police department’s new-hire and promotions process

The resolution states that “with severe revenue constraints on the city’s public safety tax fund, this capital allocation will provide much-needed relief to the city’s public safety tax fund as well as its general fund.”

If the council approves the appropriation, it would leave about $2.6 million to be spent in 2024 on city projects.

There was no other business on the agenda, except for the usual approval of claims and vouchers. There was no time for public comment on the agenda, either. In the past, public comment was allowed at the first meeting of the month.

When asked why public comment has been removed from the agenda, Council President Tyrrell Giles said it is “to keep the peace.”

The next Lawrence Common Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 17 at the Lawrence Government Center building, 9001 East 59th St.