The American Rescue Plan and Local Infrastructure: A Report from NCLM
How Federal ARP Dollars Can Address Local Water, Sewer and Other Infrastructure Needs
"A few years from now, people will look back on the American Rescue Plan and the ways that it did or did not transform communities. They will look at whether the purposes on which it was spent created a legacy of a better North Carolina, or whether opportunities were squandered."
- NCLM President and Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander
Foreword from NCLM President Karen Alexander
While it’s been said before, an idea so important is worth reiterating—the American Rescue Plan offers a generational opportunity for our municipalities, not just to recover from the pandemic, but to thrive well into the future.
It is this forward-looking aspect of the ARP that is most consequential. How best can we utilize this money to create a lasting impact? All across North Carolina, cities and towns are developing plans and programs specifically geared towards this question, and history shows us that these projects will be successful. When our municipalities receive financial support, they achieve substantial successes. Fundamentally, that is the task at hand: to take ARP’s widespread support and create widespread success.
With this critical task in mind, we are proud to publish our report on this topic, The American Rescue Plan and Local Infrastructure: How Federal ARP Dollars Can Address Local Water, Sewer and Other Infrastructure Needs. Inside, you will find further information on the investment shortfall, the outsized responsibility of local governments, and case studies that illustrate municipalities’ proven capacity to create transformative change. Additionally, we have published a summary of the report and a one-page document detailing the ‘how-to’ of utility investments.
Each North Carolina hometown, with a distinct history and make-up, faces issues uniquely its own, and it is the role of local leaders to understand and address those concerns. A common thread for many towns and cities, though, are their infrastructure needs, particularly those involving water and sewer.
Our water and wastewater systems face a sizable investment need over $20 billion over the next two decades, according to some estimates. And it’s a need that falls almost solely on our cities and towns. Local government-run systems serve 89 percent of North Carolina’s population, yet receive financial support for only 8 percent of the costs.
Making investments in infrastructure represents one of the most likely paths to a lasting funding legacy. Thus, the League encourages municipalities to consider investing ARP funds into water and wastewater infrastructure. This recommendation is not made lightly. It is offered understanding both the constraints of the ARP and the realities of North Carolina’s existing infrastructure challenges.
The American Rescue Plan represents a significant moment for our state. There is no group more capable of meeting the challenge than you, our cities and towns. The League is here to support you every step on the way.
- Karen Alexander, NCLM President and Salisbury Mayor