The Leesburg Town Council is less than thrilled with a projected 88% decrease in the amount the town is expected to receive as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.
Shortly after the House of Representatives passed the final version of the bill in March and sent it off to President Joe Biden to sign, Leesburg, like other localities, was provided with an estimate of their funding allocation courtesy of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. That estimate showed Leesburg classified as a non-entitlement unit, or a local government that does not receive Community Development Block Grant funds directly from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In that initial estimate, the town was expected to receive more than $48 million.
However, when the final U.S. Treasury distribution list was released in early May, Leesburg’s classification had changed to an entitlement community because of its population surpassing 50,000 residents in the US Census Department’s 2010 Census. That change in classification, according to a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam authored by Mayor Kelly Burk, means the town now is estimated to receive only $5.9 million in ARPA funding.
Burk points out in her letter that Leesburg has continued to defer its CDBG entitlement status to Loudoun County. While the town is eligible to participate in the CDBG program because of its population, Leesburg does not have responsibility for the types of programs that receive such funding, like housing or social services, the letter points out.
“As such, it is our position that the Town should be aligned with the other 202 cities and towns in Virginia that are also not CDBG recipients. To the best of our knowledge, Leesburg is the only jurisdiction in Virginia on the treasury’s entitled units allocation list that is not a direct CDBG grant recipient,” the letter reads.
The $5.9 allocation means that, on a per capita basis, Leesburg is only receiving $110 per resident. The letter points out how Leesburg’s neighbors to the east and west have fared better on a per capita basis—Herndon (population 24,601, $25.5 million allocation); Purcellville (10,178, $10.6 million); Vienna (16,485, $17.1 million); and Berryville (4,371, $4.5 million).
Had Leesburg been classified as a non-entitlement unit like some of its neighbors, the town would have $51.2 million, or $954 per capita.
“Currently, out of the 228 Virginia cities and towns that are receiving ARPA funds, Leesburg is dead last when it comes to per capita allocation,” the letter stated.
Burk closes the letter asking Northam and the Virginia legislature to make the adjustment, and include Leesburg as an NEU “for the purposes of equitable distribution of Virginia’s ARPA allocation.”
The Town Council is expected to discuss the matter during its Monday night work session, when it will also receive an updated financial outlook as it closes out fiscal year 2021.
This article was updated June 8 at 6:29 p.m. to correct an error about the US Census estimates.