Select Board Says Yes to Millions in ARPA Assistance; Some Restrictions on Using Grant

The town has received about $1.2 million of federal assistance under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and hopes there will be as much as $3 million more, Town Manager Sarah Stanton advised the Select Board at its virtual meeting Monday.

The board voted to accept the grant money, which does not require legislative allocation or Finance Committee review.

The total earmarked for Bedford is approximately $4.1 million. She said the Legislature may get involved and allocate some ARPA money statewide so “we are not entirely sure  what the second round will look like.”

Stanton explained that under the terms of the program, there are limitations on using the grants. Locally, she is targeting offsetting additional education costs related to the pandemic, as well as planned water and sewer expansion for prospective life-science employment centers on Middlesex Turnpike, if funds remain.

The money cannot be directly channeled toward property tax reduction, although that could be an outcome as a result of final allocations. “We are working closely with our auditors to be sure we are spending the money appropriately,” Stanton said.

In answer to a question from Selectman William Moonan, she said. “The plan is to reduce several budget line items to reflect the ARPA funds and thus lower the tax impact.” After the meeting, she said, “Discussions internally have begun regarding how the money should be reduced at Town meeting, and from what source.”

The grant covers school expenditures incurred since March 1 as well as upcoming budgeted expenses.

Stanton pointed out that town meeting approved an additional $1.9 million for the Finance Committee reserve fund to cover the additional costs. That money was transferred from the stabilization fund. School officials have declared that none of these funds will be expended if there are federal and state resources available.

The town manager added that “we also hope to use some of the money for hybrid meeting technology.”

Stanton also acknowledged that additional funds could become available through federal programs targeting infrastructure. If that materializes, she said, “we might want to assemble a stakeholder group to review possibilities.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at, or 781-983-1763

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