Tom Bernard (copy)

North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard

NORTH ADAMS — Nearly $2 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds has flowed into city coffers.

Mayor Tom Bernard is eyeing putting it toward infrastructure projects and an economic recovery fund, he told the City Council on Tuesday.

The story so far: The city has received $1.9 million, which is half the total ARPA funding the city will eventually receive, Bernard said. He outlined his priorities for the funds, which he said can be used through 2024. Infrastructure projects, specifically water and sewer initiatives, are his first priority. “Starting with ... a capital improvement hydraulic modeling and water rate study plan which will set the stage of a lot of other water projects that we know the city needs to do,” Bernard said. “That’s $80,000 that I will commit to spending immediately out of this funding.”

Bernard also plans to launch an economic recovery fund. “My vision for this is it can be something that would be open to small businesses and human service providers to get to the level of meeting urgent community needs related to the (pandemic) recovery,” he said, adding that an application is in the works.

Other communities are trying to determine how their money will be spent. Pittsfield is set to receive about $40 million, about half of which is already in city coffers. Residents weighed in on how to spend the money in forums and a survey.

What the money can be used for: Funding can be used for public health recovery, revenue replacement and infrastructure investment, among other areas, Bernard said.

What the council thought: Some businesses struggled to get money through the micro-enterprise stimulus fund the city offered with Franklin County CDC last year, Councilor Jess Sweeney said. She urged Bernard’s administration to try to work through any barriers to accessing the funds.

Councilor Benjamin Lamb asked: How much of the money would go toward infrastructure and how much toward the recovery fund? An estimated 75 percent would go toward infrastructure projects, but that could change, Bernard said.

What’s next: Residents will be able to weigh in on the funding priorities through a survey and meetings that will be scheduled, Bernard said.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6272.

Reporter

Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.