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Maine city asks public for help deciding how to spend $20.48 million

A series of public meetings have been scheduled to find out how members of the community think the funding from the American Rescue Plan Act should be spent.

BANGOR, Maine — How to spend $20.48 million? This is the question Bangor city officials are facing.

The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) passed last year. 

A series of neighborhood meetings have been scheduled around the city to find out how the local community thinks the money should be spent. These meetings are designed to be informal and conversational:

  • Tuesday, May 31, 6–8 p.m., at Boys & Girls Club, 161 Davis Road               
  • Thursday, June 2, 6–8 p.m., at EMCC, Rangeley Hall, 268 Sylvan Road
  • Tuesday, June 7, 4:30–6:30 p.m., at Bangor Public Library, Atrium, 145 Harlow Street    
  • Thursday, June 9, 6–8 p.m., at Parks & Rec Kenduskeag Room, 647 Main Street

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Town hall-style meetings will be held in the Bangor City Hall Council Chambers at 73 Harlow Street on Wednesday, June 1, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and Wednesday, June 15, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Virtual meetings have been scheduled for Tuesday, June 7, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and Thursday, June 8, from 7 – 9 p.m.

Bangor City Council Chair Rick Fournier told NEWS CENTER Maine he’s encouraging as many residents as possible to come out and make their thoughts heard.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime amount of money that’s coming to the city," Fournier said. "It’s really important that we get the input, and we just want to be very transparent around our thought process. And we want to get a comprehensive process to be able to get these funds out.”

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"The intent of the ARPA funding is to provide governments with the resources needed to respond to the pandemic and its economic effects and build to a stronger, more equitable economy during the recovery," Bangor City Manager Debbie Laurie explained.

Laurie added that the federal government's guidelines on how the funding can be spent are broken up into broad categories that include public health, negative economic impacts, services to disproportionately impacted communities, water/sewer, broadband infrastructure, and government services. 

Within the broad categories, examples of how the funding can be spent include COVID-19 prevention and testing, mental health and substance use services, education assistance, healthy childhood environments, housing, job training assistance, economic support, broadband, streets, sidewalks, and trails.

"Our goal for these public sessions is to solicit feedback to identify priorities for the City Council to consider regarding the allocation of these funds," Laurie said. "We are offering sessions in as many times, locations, and formats as possible to increase accessibility."

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