City Council Work Session Recap for Dec. 13, 2021
The Las Cruces City Council conducted a work session in Council Chambers at City Hall, 700 N. Main St., on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021 to discuss an internal audit review of the eligibility process for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as well as the Request for Proposals (RFP) process for ARPA funds.
As a result, the Council will wait for the completion of an internal audit, conducted by the City’s Internal Audit Office, and for recommendations from internal auditors and City administration before the Council will consider formal approval of ARPA funds for Las Cruces nonprofit organizations that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday’s work session was conducted after City Council tabled consideration, at its December 6 meeting, of a Resolution proposing funding priorities and allocations for coronavirus state and local recovery funds for various Las Cruces nonprofits. The Council’s decision to table allocations of ARPA funds came after some concerns were raised with City officials about the application process.
The City received 21 proposals requesting approximately $26.3 million dollars in funding for various projects. Twelve eligible applications were presented to an ARPA Selection Committee, and nine projects were recommended for funding.
On Sept. 7, 2021, City Council adopted Resolution 22-029, the ARPA Request for Proposal and Policy Guide.
City Council was told the City’s internal audit has not yet been completed. However, preliminary observations from the City’s Internal Audit Office show the process followed to determine eligibility for ARPA funding was not sufficiently designed or documented to support clear, consistent, and transparent eligibility determinations. Additionally, specific eligibility criteria and requirements were not documented to identify how eligibility would be determined and reviewers did not record the existence, non-existence, or applicability of eligibility criteria and requirements. Also, consistency and appropriateness of the eligibility review process followed cannot be confirmed.
When the recommendations are offered from internal auditors and City administration, the Council will have several options it can consider. City Council could accept any or all recommendations that address concerns regarding the application process. Also, the Council could individually amend any of the nine projects recommended for funding or begin a new application process.
City Council is scheduled to act on the ARPA funds at its regularly scheduled meeting on December 20.
The Council acknowledged flaws in the application process and there was sentiment among some Council members that nonprofits who weren’t recommended for ARPA funding should not be penalized.
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