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City of Pueblo commits $6M of ARPA Funding to Project Proposals for Community Economic Recovery

Pueblo, CO, USA

At a Glance

The City of Pueblo, CO, required a framework to evaluate and prioritize projects for distribution of its $36.7M in ARPA funding. Using an efficient and repeatable scoring methodology, the city approved 12 approvals and committed $6M of its funds.

Problem Addressed

The American Rescue Plan Act provided $36.7 million in emergency funding to the City of Pueblo, Colorado, to remedy the mismatch between rising costs and falling revenues. With this tremendous financial infusion, a methodology for evaluating and prioritizing project proposals was crucial to enable the proper allocation of funds.

In addition to meeting the Treasury Guidance, the City of Pueblo wants to ensure that it meets the needs of its citizens, beginning with the most immediate and urgent needs without forsaking the long-term, sustainable vision of the City. It is more important than ever to have a system and repeatable methodology to evaluate and prioritize the allocation of funds accessible to citizens, staff, and decision-makers.

City of Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar, and his Chief of Staff, Laura Solano, needed to find a fair, repeatable and efficient methodology for evaluating and prioritizing projects and proposals to ensure that each was assessed against the same rubric. This ensures that the City maintains the highest level of transparency and accountability and provides the citizens with access to the decision-making process.

City of Pueblo, Colorado used/is using Priority Based Budgeting Custom Scoring Rubric to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

The City of Pueblo, Colorado, received its first tranche of ARPA funds in the summer of 2021. It was imperative to the Mayor and Council that they have a clear, fair, transparent and repeatable process to apply to the proposals coming in. This was to ensure an equitable and fair distribution of the funds and also to ensure clear communication to citizens of the decision-making process.

The City worked with ResourceX to establish a custom scoring matrix based on the seven pillars of their community. In conjunction with the What Works Cities City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program, additional proposal scoring categories were added to the matrix to help support the evaluation of the ARPA proposals coming in.

On June 30, 2021, the City of Pueblo, Colorado approved a custom scoring rubric to be used with the Priority Based Budgeting methodology to ensure all proposals for ARPA resources are evaluated and prioritized through a process that is accessible to staff, elected officials and citizens.

"We needed a methodology to prioritize and be compliant. In working with ResourceX, we said, What do we really need to do? This has been an incredible tool. It has been standardized and easy to refer back to. It is a community-driven ARPA process to meet the needs of the recovery from COVID." - Laura Solano, Chief of Staff, City of Pueblo

In building the scoring matrix used to evaluate and prioritize ARPA proposals, the City utilized seven pillars of focus: Individuals & Households, Tourism & Hospitality, Youth, Non-Profits, Small Business, Infrastructure, and Community Resilience. A set of criteria is used to score proposals on how well they move the needle on each pillar, including, Eligibility, Cost, Sustainability (the ability to be funded beyond the one-time use of ARPA funds), Community Benefitting, Equity, and Infrastructure (to flag proposals that may be eligible for funding through the Infrastructure Law, freeing up more ARPA resources). Each of these criteria can receive a score of 0, 2, or 4. Programs with the highest overall score will be ranked as most impactful and highest priority.

Based on the PBB standardized scoring methodology where the highest scores were prioritized for approval, the City has fairly and transparently approved 12 proposals and committed $6million of their $36.7 million in funding. Approved projects that will utilize ARPA funding include a summer reading incentive program that will pay kids $100 each for reading 10 books during the summer, a day labor program that will pay unhoused Puebloans to pick up trash around the city, and a program to incentivize city employees to get vaccinated. Furthermore, $1 million has also been committed to non-profit projects to employ five mental health professionals and one case manager to provide services to the Police Department, to help low-income tenants connect with legal resources to prevent eviction and to help the soup kitchen meet increased demand because of the pandemic.

Outcomes

  1. The City has approved 12 ARPA proposals and committed $6 million of its funding using the new evaluation process.
  2. A method to score, evaluate and prioritize all proposals through a process that meets the needs of citizens while maintaining the long-term vision of the City.
  3. Implementation of the most aligned and impactful proposals for the benefit of Pueblo residents and the community
  4. The new proposal evaluation method provides Pueblo’s citizens with greater visibility around the decision-making process.
  5. $1 million in ARPA funding has been committed to projects put forward by nonprofit organizations, such as adding mental health professionals to the police department staff, and many others.

Something Unique

Pueblo gained national recognition for its summer reading incentive program, using $1 million in ARPA funding to award 7,074 youths $100 each for reading 10 books during the summer.

Who Should Consider?

Any municipality looking to generate, evaluate and prioritize projects and proposals to utilize their American Rescue Plan Act funds.

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