ARPA guideline change gives Fall River $10 million for revenue losses | #students | #parents

FALL RIVER — For more than six months, Mayor Paul Coogan has beaten the drum that the American Rescue Plan Act formula to calculate use of funding for lost revenue is unfair, particularly for poorer communities in the Commonwealth. He also enlisted the federal delegation in his mission. 

And now a recent change in federal guidelines means that the city will be able to use $10 million of its $64 million ARPA allocation to cover revenue losses. 

“It gives us greater flexibility to fill any gaps in the next couple of years,” said Coogan. “The U.S. Treasury has now recognized what we were trying to tell them, that they are hamstringing cities and towns.” 

Because of Massachusetts’ unique education and school building funding schemes, cities and towns had to include that money as part of its overall revenue. 

That hurt Fall River, which received a bump in school aid starting last year, thanks to the Massachusetts Student Opportunity Act, Chapter 70 money. The city also recieved $65 million from the Massachusetts School Building Authority to help pay for the new B.M.C. Durfee High School.  

Budget battle:Coogan administration addresses possible budget shortfall; Ponte claims city facing financial woes

That standard wreaked havoc on the administration’s budget, which had originally included $4.5 million in ARPA funding for revenue loss during a contentious 2022 budget season with the former City Council. 

After an opinion by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the administration wiped out the lost revenue line item, and was left with the challenge of plugging the hole. 

But last week, Coogan’s persistence, along with the help of the region’s senators and congressmen, paid off with the U.S. Treasury releasing the new guideline option for determining a community’s revenue loss with the $10 million option to help fund government services. 

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