Strohm presents ARP spending plan | News, Sports, Jobs


City manager Omar Strohm on Monday offered city council a tentative plan to spend the $ 39.6 million Altoona will receive as part of the US bailout.

Strohm’s plan calls for spending the money in 18 categories, some more specific than others – eight focused on projects or issues internal to the city government and the rest on benefits to the community.

The plan spreads spending over four years, with $ 7 million forecast for next year, followed by $ 13.2 million, $ 13.7 million and $ 5.6 million in subsequent years.

Storm sewer repairs would account for the biggest share at $ 14 million, in line with the bulk of residents’ demands in two meetings council held this summer to take recommendations.

Strohm’s plan also includes committing $ 4 million to a revolving business development loan fund to be administered by Altoona Blair County Development Corp .; $ 3.1 million for the replenishment of municipal positions eliminated due to COVID-19; $ 3 million each to fund land reserve projects, police station expansion, recreation grants and business revitalization.

There is also $ 2.5 million for sidewalks; $ 2.1 million for various projects; $ 500,000 to transform the old J&J Recycling building into a municipal training center; $ 310,000 for information technology equipment and software; $ 250,000 to modernize the road garage; $ 200,000 for the Blair Central Parks and Recreation Commission; $ 75,000 to renovate a conference room on the fourth floor of City Hall; $ 62,000 to offset the direct costs of COVID-19 and $ 20,000 for the Greater Altoona Economic Development Corp.

While ABCD Corp. would administer the revolving loan program, council will draft guidelines for spending the money and exercise ultimate control, based on suggestions from Councilor Bruce Kelley which were seconded by Councilor Dave Butterbaugh.

The Council is ultimately responsible for taxpayer money and should not cede control to a “third party,” Kelley said.

The plan is subject to change, especially in 2022, 2023 and 2024, board members said.

The city will look to use ARP money to get additional grants, Mayor Matt Pacifico said.

Staff will propose a resolution at the November board meeting to formalize spending proposals for next year only.

It is “A little roadmap to start”, Kelley said.

“These are recommendations from me” Strohm said. “They are obviously not in stone.”

Mirror staff writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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