CARP Implementation Working Group discusses ARPA funding

Daily archive photo by Allie Goulding

Jerri Garl at an Environment Council meeting in November 2017. She made a presentation Wednesday evening on how CARP-related projects could fit into the city’s ARPA allocations.

Ahead of Monday’s city council meeting and with a potential heap of federal pandemic relief funding on the table, the Evanston Environmental Advocacy Task Force discussed on Wednesday how to allocate the dollars budget allocated to economic recovery towards local environmental justice objectives.

Evanston Climate Action and Resilience Plan aims for the city to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. The CARP Implementation Working Group is tasked with implementing broad policy plans to help the city achieve this goal. It also sets smaller, more specific benchmarks to ensure Evanston stays on track for decades to come, such as transitioning to 50% electric vehicles by 2025.

Lawyers have expressed concern that CARP does not have the funding and the staff to stay on track. that of the city draft budget 2022 represents an increase of almost $ 60 million from the 2021 budget, most of which will come from the American Rescue Plan Act. This means that this year is particularly crucial for setting aside CARP funds.

The working group offers At last week’s council, $ 5 million in ARPA funding is expected to be spent on CARP-focused projects over the next five years. But the federal government does not recognize CARP initiatives as a predefined category for the use of ARPA funds. ARPA may fund environmental initiatives, but it is specifically designed to promote public health and economic recovery – not necessarily carbon neutral projects.

Thus, Kelley Gandurski, Acting City Manager, recommended implementing CARP projects in existing ARPA categories, rather than allocating the money directly. Wednesday’s working group meeting focused on resolving this caveat by researching ARPA categories that are achievable for CARP projects.

Jerri Garl, member of the Evanston Environment Council and Citizens’ Greener Evanston, led a presentation on how to link economic recovery efforts with CARP initiatives. The expansion of green spaces and the modernization of drinking water infrastructure were among Garl’s recommendations.

ARPA’s interim final rule allows environmental projects to receive federal funding if they meet certain criteria of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

“You kind of have to dig to find those opportunities, but they’re there,” Garl said.

Projects eligible for the fund include upgrading stormwater systems, said board member Joel Freeman, who is particularly important for neighborhoods in Evanston with a high concentration of affordable housing.

“Communities that have been impacted financially by COVID… will also be some of the same citizens who will be affected by the effects of climate change,” Freeman said.

Hal Sprague, member of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, agreed, saying local flooding due to climate change often occurs in predominantly low-income areas where necessary upgrades and repairs have not been made.

ARPA will fund a wide list of environment-related projects when they relate to qualified census tracts. These plots are areas where 50% of households have incomes below 60% of the median gross income of the area or have a poverty rate of at least 25%.

The 5th Ward of Evanston is considered a QCT and some areas of the 8th Ward may also receive identification.

“If you are in these regions, you can justify (CARP) projects that support healthy living environments and neighborhoods conducive to mental and physical well-being,” Garl said.

The task force is also keen to secure more funding from the city for CARP so that the project does not rely entirely on ARPA funds. The draft city budget 2022 currently allocates approximately $ 80,000 to CARP projects.

Ahead of Monday’s city council meeting, the task force plans to present council members with some examples of how economic and environmental justice intersect in the community of Evanston. They hope the presentation will lead to higher funding allocations for CARP projects in the final budget.

“(CARP) is fundamentally the most important project to come,” Garl said. “And if it’s not in the city’s budget… I think we’re really in trouble.”

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @JorjaSiemons

E-mail: [email protected]

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