ABC Fox Montana: New bill allows Butte-Silver Bow, Anaconda-Deer Lodge to apply for ARPA funds
BUTTE, Mont. – The Butte-Silver Bow and Anaconda-Deer Lodge governments will now be able to receive around a million dollars each from the American Rescue Plan Act funds after the Local Assistance Fairness Act passed in Congress.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester and Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., allows county-municipal governments left out tothe original ARPA bill to receive federal assistance to help rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tester says Chief Executives Bill Everett and J.P. Gallagher were instrumental in helping get this legislation passed. When they first applied for ARPA money, the Treasury Department refused to distribute the full amount other governments were eligible for, saying they had to follow the letter of the bill, which did not include county-municipality governments. The two then went to Tester for help.
This exclusion was not necessarily an oversight, there was just not totally clear legislative intent in leaving out these governments, Tester said.
“We clarified the legislative intent with the bill called the Local Assistance Fairness Act. And when people come together and make a little noise, people listen,” he said.
Right now, the governments do not have an exact picture of where that funding will be distributed once they receive it,Gallagher said. But it will be reinvested back into the community and infrastructure.
“We know that this is important to our citizens, to the taxpayers. You know, infrastructure needs throughout our community,” Gallagher said. “Our businesses that struggled throughout the pandemic are all things we’ve identified and we’ve worked with through COVID-19.”
Tester said this is a significant moment in post-pandemic rebuilding for these communities. The application for these governments is supposed to open Wednesday and funds should be distributed within a month.