Executive Director Message

Margaret M.L. Byrnes, Executive Director

The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice and may no longer be accurate due to changes in the law. Consult NHMA's legal services or your municipal attorney.

By the time you are reading this, the House will have held its three-day marathon session, the Senate be working on the State budget, and Crossover will have passed. As you have hopefully read in the Legislative Bulletin and our separate Legislative alert emails, there are many bills in the House this year that are damaging to local government. And, although the state budget includes some positives—including, for the first time in several years, no suspension of the statutory Meals & Rooms “catch-up” formula—the budget also contains serious defects. Most notably, the budget fails to fund already-approved state aid grants (SAG). Please continue to read our Legislative Bulletin and engage with your legislators; the session is far from over, and so there is much more opportunity left to advocate.

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In good news, municipalities are receiving significant direct funding through The American Rescue Plan (ARPA), and we hope all municipalities are following the information and guidance on our ARPA Information page (under the Resources tab on the homepage). Much of the information has come from our partner, the National League of Cities (NLC), which provides advocacy and resources for cities and towns across the country on the federal level. Although there is a lot of helpful information available on ARPA funding, it is important to note that most of the critical questions will be answered when the US Treasury releases its official guidance—which is expected to be published on or by May 11.

In the meantime, NLC has put forth five principles for ARPA implementation:

  1. Assess government operations and community needs to develop a plan for recovery. This means including all stakeholders—internal and external—as well as residents to conduct a needs assessment for your community and a plan. And don’t feel rushed: You have until December 24, 2024 to spend down the direct funds, giving you plenty of time to create and implement a well-defined plan.
  2. Use each resource strategically. We cannot stress enough how important this is. The direct funds to cities and towns are not the only funding resource that will be available to you. You must educate yourself on what the bill includes and ensure you are taking advantage of all resources available.
  3. Prioritize fiscal stability and returning to work. Plan your spending with the goals of strengthening business and government stability, preserving jobs, and getting people back to work.
  4. Maintain records and document impact. Track everything, even when you are just beginning to put together an implementation plan for the funds. Use data to show how the funds are working to meet your goals or to determine what changes you might need to make in your spending plan.
  5. Your Congressional Delegation is part of your success. Keep them in the loop about how these funds are helping to improve your community and meet your goals.

Margaret Byrnes

You can read the full article through a link on our ARPA Information Page.

 Margaret serves as Executive Director and oversees all activities of the New Hampshire Municipal Association.

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