Podcast: The American Rescue Plan Act with Chris Fabian, ResourceX

Posted on April 2, 2021

Chris Fabian

Chris Fabian

Chris Fabian
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Spending stimulus dollars responsibly. Chris Fabian, the CEO and Co-Founder of ResourceX, joined the podcast to talk about the funding for local governments within the recently passed federal stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan Act. He shared best practices for local governments to spend and allocate the stimulus funds along with how to distribute the money equitability. He also gave guidance on budget development for the coming year.

Host: Kirsten Wyatt

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Learn More

ResourceX Website

A 5-Tiered Plan for Prioritizing One-Time ARP Funds for Long-Term Sustainability

ResourceX American Rescue Plan Act Position Paper

The American Rescue Plan: Prioritizing One Time Funds for Long Term Sustainability (Video)

The Impact of the American Rescue Plan on Local Government

How should local leaders use their American Rescue Plan funding?

Episode Transcription

Kirsten Wyatt  00:19

Coming to you from Portland, Oregon, this is Gov Love, a podcast about local government. Gov Love is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Kirsten Wyatt, the ELGL co founder and executive director, and today I’m joined by Chris Fabian, the co founder of Resource Exploration and a longtime friend of ELGL. Chris, welcome back to Gov Love.

Chris Fabian  00:44

Hey, thanks very much. I’m so thrilled to be back on Gov Love. It, it’s been a while. So thanks for having me back on the show.

Kirsten Wyatt  00:52

Of course, and today we’re talking about American Rescue Plan funding, and the best ways for local leaders to prioritize these funds. But first, let’s get started with a lightning round. What is your most controversial non political opinion?

Chris Fabian  01:09

Oh, this is totally off the cuff. I was thinking hard about this one. And I might, I could go with F. Scott Fitzgerald is greater than Ernest Hemingway, which I do believe, but I was thinking, most recently, I’ve had the debate around chili Reno’s and I am all about crispy. I know a lot of people go soft on the Reno’s I mean, I appreciate both sides. But I’m all crispy.

Kirsten Wyatt  01:35

Wow. All right. I mean, that’s that’s kind of a bold take. And honestly, one that we haven’t had on Gov love yet, so you might be starting something.

Chris Fabian  01:43

I would love to have a longer conversation about chili Reno’s in general. It’s a rabbit hole.

Kirsten Wyatt  01:49

 Okay, perfect. If you could give advice to your 21 year old self, what would you say?

Chris Fabian  01:58

Man had, at 21 I didn’t have I didn’t have much money. And I had more time, I would probably go with travel. Travel more. And especially my 21 year old self is predicting this future where I’ll have a lot more time and a lot more money and the ability to travel but my 21 year old self didn’t picture pandemic life where you’re not traveling anywhere. So maybe that’s, I’d go travel.

Kirsten Wyatt  02:25

Alright. And then who is your celebrity twin?

Chris Fabian  02:32

Um, I just because there’s no video right now, I’m gonna go with Clooney. If I’m able to go with no video, I’m gonna go the George Clooney.

Kirsten Wyatt  02:44

You know, and I hate to break this to you. But so many people in the ELGL family have met you and seen you. So that might not be you know, you might not be as incognito as you think. But you could go with that. But I want you to have a, I want you to have good self confidence.

Chris Fabian  03:01

How about on the spectrum? If it’s between Seth Rogen and George Clooney, and it’s like somewhere in the middle probably.

Kirsten Wyatt  03:12

I love it. And then if you woke up one day and you had different hands, how long would it take for you to notice?

Chris Fabian  03:20

I would never notice. I wouldn’t I don’t think I would ever notice. I mean, it’s a miracle, I find time or notice that I need to clip my nails. It only comes from the increased volume of typing on the computer keys.

Kirsten Wyatt  03:33

Well, and I will say I asked this question of Kent, in our last episode, and he said it would be within seconds. And so if we’re talking about a spectrum of awareness, like the two of you are kind of polar opposites. So Alright, so before we begin a quick reminder that the new normal survea, COVID’s lasting legacy for local government, is an opportunity for you to share your unique perspective as a local government leader. We want to know what will COVID-19’s lasting legacy be on public services, your response will help the entire local government community build a new, better normal, and you can head over to ELGL.org to take that survey. But now let’s get started with the interview. So Chris, share with us your career path and how you got to where you are today.

Chris Fabian  04:19

Hmm. I mean, this is a it’s been a winding one that’s for sure. I I began in engineering. And it was in an engineering job where I met a city manager, our engineering firm was smart enough to realize, hey, we don’t know how cities work and yet all of our business is coming from cities. So we hired a city manager to come in and inform the company of how local governments work. And I was so enamored. I was like, Why did I choose engineering? Right? But I love engineering. And I partnered with this guy, he took me under his wing. And we ended up working on a host of government Efficiency management consulting type of studies, I would build a little rate model for a utility or their fleet study facilities. Soon enough, we were saving local governments some money here and there. And that was really exciting. But I was always curious, like, where does that savings go? Like, presumably, it’s reallocated to somewhere. So I, if we worked in a fleet department, and we saved a bunch of money, I wanted to zoom out and see where it is, there were two, the resources get reallocated. Did our work matter, essentially. And as it was following that path, one thing led to another, we found out there was another group of people who were interested in the same idea. And they were working on a budgeting process. And they were David Osborne, and Peter Hutchinson, in their firm at the time was public strategies, we reached out to him, we said, we want something bigger than the work that we’re doing. And you guys are rethinking the entire budget process Overall. We reached out to that group found their work was exceptionally interesting, they made us partners to their organization. And we began the path of what at that point was called budgeting for outcomes. budgeting for outcomes led to this current version of priority based budgeting, which is budgeting for outcomes 2.0, if you will, and I’ve essentially been working on the exact same problem since like 2003. And that’s been the career path. It’s, in some ways Kirsten, I do consider my engineering background as at least somewhat related, where you’re thinking about how to solve for important objective, maybe it’s getting resources towards equity, which we’ve been working a lot on, and then trying to imagine, like all the complex variables that that go into play. And that’s how we look at the world.

Kirsten Wyatt  06:50

And I feel like anyone who has ever heard the two of us talk before, they’ve heard me talk about this, but I’m gonna say it again, ELGL’s growth and success is hugely dependent on the support very early support that you gave to us and the exposure to the folks that you get to work with. And so over the years, it’s just been such a delight to be able to kind of run in the same circles with you and be able to share with our members on the work that you’re doing. And then for you to share with your clients and with your local governments the work that we do. So just can’t thank you enough. And just want to remind our listeners of what a long standing and important relationship this has been for ELGL. And I just want to, again, recognize that for the the 100th time, but I don’t think I can say it enough.

Chris Fabian  07:42

Kirsten, it is, I’ll never forget when Eric Fabian was on my couch, and he’s like Kirsten and Kent followed us back on Twitter! And I think that the fandom was in reverse. We were so excited that we’re following some of the work that you were doing way back then. And we were so pumped that you would come to our conference. And you know, fast forward. The work that we’re able to do in the cohort for budgeting for resiliency together is it’s a dream come true for us. You know,, the way that we see it is your you have taken this position to do such good in the realm of local government. And we’re trying to as well, and we’re both kind of explorers and adventurers, by value system, trying to do good for public service. And we’re so thankful to be a partner of yours. And thank you for all of the support you’ve given us over the years as well.

Kirsten Wyatt  08:37

I was looking at my photo memories and a while ago and the the very first conference of yours that we attended, popped up and it was pictures of Ben and Kent, you know, eating pizza and drinking beer in Denver and I was reminiscing that that was honestly our very first ever professional conference that we had attended on behalf of the ELGL and you gave us that opportunity, so.

Chris Fabian  09:03

Was that when the Seattle Seahawks were in the same hotel? Do you remember this?

Kirsten Wyatt  09:09

I do and it may have been It was either that year or the year after but I also remember that that was when I screamed so loudly when I saw Pete Carroll that I think I like scared the whole team so thank you for for also like giving me that chance to humiliate myself.

Chris Fabian 09:24

I remember Kent had an awesome suit as well. I’ll never forget that sharp suit.

Kirsten Wyatt  09:30

I’ll mention that to him. Alright, so to get back on topic. You were last on Gov love in September 2019, which feels like ages and ages ago. What has happened in your life and your work since then? For our listeners who maybe heard that episode.

Chris Fabian  09:49

Wow. I remember the episode well, I was with Alyssa, we had a great a great time. Since then, on the personal side. We had Second kid, Evan, Elon Fabian was born in September of 2020. So that’s super exciting. We have two kids, Kirsten, you were the first person who we let know we were having a daughter, way back when, because I felt good about the world that she was entering into, because of the work that you’re doing. And I thought that was really special. So we have two kids now who run our lives, the personal side. And then man professionally has been so fascinating. In 2019, we were using this methodology of priority based budgeting to help make sure that local governments were dreaming big, right. 2019 felt like a year of abundance, we had money. And it was, hey, make sure that you’re focused on climate action and sustainability, and economic opportunity for all. And that was that was super exciting for us is we never enjoy using property based budgeting in a budget cutting environment. So 2019 is all about dreaming for the future. and then 2020 head and it was just such a rethinking of, wow, how do we prioritize now in a time of such scarcity, to make sure that cities and counties are going to survive, and that they are still focused on what matters. And you know, clearly, we’ve all been through all of 2020, from a pandemic perspective, from a race and social justice perspective, and really focusing and becoming crystal clear on what’s extraordinarily important and where our resources need to go. It’s been, I’m mentioning all this to say, it’s been like a grounding period of time to get very centered on why we have local governments, what it what we need to be able to resource knowing that nobody else is waiting in line to take over for local government if we don’t address climate and social change, and the kind of amazing priorities that are on the table. So that that’s been heartening to just realize the pivotal role that local governments play. And now we’re heading into a period where we have ARP resources. And, you know, it’s not it’s not abundance all over again. But it’s, it’s been a pendulum swing, right. But the same ideas on the table, like how do we really focus on using these resources for what needs to get done right now?

Kirsten Wyatt  12:26

Well, in perfect segue into what we’re going to talk about today, so just very quickly, for our listener, who, you know, maybe hasn’t been paying attention, you know, their kids are running their lives, they’ve been on spring break, you know, variety of reasons. What is the American Rescue Plan?

Chris Fabian  12:44

Well, admittedly, we are still figuring out what is the grand scope of the American Rescue Plan. It’s definitely multifaceted. But from a big picture standpoint, it is the infusion of resources, one time resources to the extent that we know of the plan today. And the part that we’re tremendously focused on is it’s meant to support local governments for a variety of reasons. There’s direct stimulus, there’s direct infusion of resources back to local governments. And then there are also ancillary or other buckets of money for other programs, for example, affordable housing, or rent offset for people who are still unable to make ends meet. So there, we’re still trying to get our arms around all the different buckets of resources and how local governments can make sure they’re not redundant in how they use these these these one time, sources of support.

Kirsten Wyatt  13:52

Right, right. And are we saying ARP are we saying ARP like, what’s your preference?

Chris Fabian  13:58

I was looking for your enunciation. And I would just go with it. I figured I can’t lose if I just say the letters. Yes. I’ve heard I’ve heard ARP, I’ve heard ARPA. Do you say GIF? Is it like GIF versus GIF, is this like that kind of conversation?

Kirsten Wyatt  14:13

It could be it could be. Well, maybe for the purposes of this podcast, we’ll just say ARP.

Chris Fabian  14:20

That’s great.

Kirsten Wyatt  14:21

Okay. So you mentioned some of the opportunities, but, you know, why is this so critically important right now for local governments? And honestly, why is it so important for them to get it right? When we talk about these funds coming in and the possibilities for using them?

Chris Fabian  14:38

Oh, man, it’s a it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity is how it’s how we see it, and we’re not alone. I mean, we’re talking to our clients. We just did a webinar and a released a position paper on how to prioritize these resources as well. But we feel like every local government leader we talk to does get the sense this is kind of a once in a lifetime chance to, to do a host of things. One, to get resources out the door as fast as possible for people who are suffering right now and who need the help, like yesterday. And so that so for that reason, it’s extremely important. Another reason it’s extremely important is a lot of cities to make ends meet, shouldn’t just say cities, local governments across the board to make ends meet last year, they had to dip into emergency reserves, because last year was an emergency. And now it’s an opportunity to replenish perhaps. And then thinking bigger beyond the the urgent needs of the resources, there’s enough to really start thinking about partnerships in your community, there’s enough to really start investing in in the long term and taking big swings, at making sure you have resources for climate, for equity, like we’ve never been able to afford, with incremental uses of the budget in the past, now’s the chance to like, really make big time commitments. And I’d say Lastly, it’s the opportunity to think about long term sustainability, like what actions can we take right now that create a longer term source of of return on investment of replenished savings, so that maybe we’re not as vulnerable as we were heading into the blindsiding conditions of 2020.

Kirsten Wyatt  16:30

And the thing that strikes me is how quickly these funds need to be spent. So talk to us about best practices. You know, I think you’ve done such a nice job helping local governments kind of understand the need to prioritize, but sometimes when things have to happen fast, that can, it can fall out of out of kilter. So talk to us about best practices when money needs to be spent very quickly in local government.

Chris Fabian  16:58

Yeah. We in our position paper, we were grappling with this tension, Kirsten and it, it’s real, it’s how can anybody sorry, let me back up just a little bit. I think everybody understands the best practice that these are one time resources. And sometimes we can get ourselves into trouble if we use one time resources to fund things that are more ongoing in nature. And so there’s like the angel on your shoulder, if you will, or the the Mark Funkhouser on your shoulder who’s like us, though, everybody needs a Mark Funkhouser on their shoulder by the way. But there’s the idea that, hey, don’t get yourself into trouble by devoting all of the one time resources to starting ongoing programs that we’re just going to have to revisit next year, if we don’t have enough money to support them.  And then there’s the other, the other Angel on your shoulder who’s saying, Yeah, but people need the resources right now. And then there is a tremendous tension. So what we’re thinking is, you know, in the best practice of how do you begin to prioritize them is, can we imagine parsing it out? Can we imagine, like if you had a portfolio? Or if you had various hands to play on a betting table? Can we have resources allocated towards the urgent? Maybe that’s year one. And then we have resources dedicated towards reserve replenishment. And then we have resources dedicated towards more long term needs. Is that a possible starting place? Another reason that we’re thinking along these lines is that even for all of our urgent immediate needs, it’s going to still take some time to figure out well, what exactly are we going to fund? Are we funding programs? Are we funding the best programs? Are we giving direct assistance out the door? Is that the best way to do it? So so even some, as fast as possible, some rapid planning immediately towards what exactly we’re going to fund and then set a cap on it immediately to see how far you get. Trying to hold seven reserved for the long term is is how we’re starting to think think this through.

Kirsten Wyatt  19:21

It brings me back to what you were saying about, you know, helping local governments dream big and plan ahead and think about some of those expenditures that they’d like to make that, you know, that would really make a difference in a community. And now, you know, you have this influx and so if you didn’t do prior planning, you know, you might find yourself in a tough spot. So any advice? If someone’s listening to this, and they’re thinking, you know, we didn’t we didn’t prioritize, we didn’t plan but now we have this coming in the door. Like, you know, how do you advise them to get started right now, to best use these funds for their communities?

Chris Fabian  20:04

Great question. So on the table right away, might be look, you’re gonna have the pressure to get direct support out to people immediately. Can you take 10%, can you take 15% of your funds, and have a focused effort on how are we going to use those funds right away, because that’s going to be your your biggest opportunity to win, and, and help your people immediately. But that’s also going to take some thoughtful planning on how to use those resources. But, and it won’t be immediately known how to deploy 10 to 15% of your ARP resources right off the bat. And what that does, we think is, puts puts a focus group together on how to use those resources, no different than a participatory budgeting exercise, by do when you’re inviting voices throughout your community to really think through how this can work. But what it also does is buy you some time to do some of that planning for the longer term. So if I’m, if I’m city manager, and I’ve set aside my 15% of my ARP resources, and I’ve got a group thinking about, we’re going to get these resources out the door right away, then my next focus group, or task is I need to start thoughtfully considering what are the the bigger swings that we can take. And I’m now going to set up a plan because I believe that the funds have to be used by 2024, I’m going to set up a longer term game plan for how to deploy the rest of the resources. In in our work in priority based budgeting, we find that there’s there’s some just general data that you want to be able to use to drive these discussions, you want to know, what are the priorities that you’re thinking about? Do you have climate action on the table like Pittsburgh, who we’re working with, who is really hoping and definitely are taking big swings towards addressing their Climate Action Plan? Is it equity, like the city and county of Denver, is is totally focused on? What are the the other major priorities that you have? Next, what do we know about how we are using our resources today? In other words, like, what are the programs that we provide throughout our organization? And how do we allocate the current budget? And through priority based budgeting, of course, we try to analyze alignment or lack thereof, to understand other other ways to reconsider how we provide certain programs or partner in a different way. The dream is this, if this process to get your data together and work your way towards a longer term plan is is a short term process. And if you can get your data on the table within the next, you know, before the end of 2021, you can use that as your jumping off point to say, Alright, now we’re going to try to free up X amount of dollars, we’re gonna try to use ARP resources to fund a partnership, we’re going to merge a fleet operation with a neighboring community, like we just were talking with community earlier today in Texas, in order to create long term sources of savings, so that it’s not a one time thing, we’re actually creating a multiple year return on our investment if that, if that makes sense. I wasn’t super articulate. But it’s like if you put one time money into a partnership today, that creates long term savings. It’s as if you can get ARP resources every year.

Kirsten Wyatt  23:54

Talk to us about these partnerships. And kind of I know it’s still early, but some of the examples or some of the best practices that you’re seeing develop and something that that you might recommend that listeners try to replicate in their communities.

Chris Fabian  24:12

Yeah, one that we heard that is just a really cool story. So in Pittsburgh, they’re also aware that not everybody is getting these funds. And so one of their assessments, was looking out regionally and realizing for example, there is a parking authority, a parking authority who is not eligible to receive the ARP resources. And this parking authority took a hit like everybody else last year from a revenue perspective. So they’re, from the city’s mindset, they’re wondering, well, if the parking authority doesn’t survive, chances are, we are the city and we’re going to have to get into this business or help them in some way, shape or form. So thinking opportunistically they’re wondering, is there a way For us to use some of our resources to help them in a partnership, and also use those resources in a way that fits within our mutually shared goals. in Pittsburgh, with climate so much on their mind, the transition to electric vehicles and EV infrastructure is a great use of funds. And so they’re wondering, can we can we use these funds to help with the fiscal sustainability of the parking authority and also steer them towards building EV infrastructure for charging units within the parking structures? Like, that’s really cool. That’s a partnership looking out for an entity who’s struggling who’s in need a business and coming up with a way to use the funds that fits into your local government’s long term objective of climate sustainability? We thought that was really awesome.

Kirsten Wyatt  25:52

Right. That’s amazing. And it really is that kind of shot in the arm that local government would need, like, no COVID vaccination, pun intended. To to really advance some of these, you know, very forward thinking initiatives.

Chris Fabian  26:09

Yeah. Yeah, I completely agree. And then Fort Collins, Colorado, nearer to where I live is, is thinking about like, well, how can we convene those who are getting resources, like the county like some of the neighboring cities around them, as well? And consider, what are the things that we wanted to do but we’ve always felt like we didn’t have the resources to put together. And I thought this pressure would have come up during a resource scarcity situation like last year, where cities would come together and say, Hey, we don’t have enough to do police on our own, or we don’t have enough to each run our own fleet operation, let’s band together create an economy of scale, and we’ll all reap the benefit of the savings. But I think the lesson learned from last year is everyone felt just so on edge or scared or tight with their resources, that pursuing those those sorts of partnerships still felt like we don’t have the time to do it and we don’t have the money to execute the game plan. Now, with some resources, you can, you can actually fund some of the known mergers that you’ve been thinking about that create long term efficiencies or savings. So we’ve heard of regional fleet, we’ve seen, even regional fire departments come up on the table for ways to deliver higher level of service across a region. And, and the only way that you would want to do it is if you’re creating a win win, meaning everybody’s going to get the benefit of higher level of service, for less money going into the regional solution, meaning there is a an ongoing efficiency created. So your one time use of funding creates a replenishment of that money by way of ongoing savings for the foreseeable future.

Kirsten Wyatt  28:04

The other thing I’ve no, that’s perfect, and thank you, and I love all of these great examples that our listeners can, you know, start digging into or learning from. The other thing I’ve been fascinating to read about has been that some analysis from last year’s CARES Act funding kind of exacerbated some economic and racial inequalities, because of the speed at which the funds, you know, had to go out the door. And so some of the more traditional kind of legacy paths, you know, receive those funds and some minority owned businesses and communities, you know, didn’t didn’t have that access, or didn’t get in the good, I guess, get their foot in the door. fast enough. Anything that you’re hearing, as we think about ARP funds, and ways that we can make sure that that inequality is addressed, especially in, related to race and economic inequality.

Chris Fabian  29:08

Hugely on our minds. We’re, I don’t know if you know this or not, I mean, this is just underway. But we’re partnering with Results for America on an initiative with Government Finance Officers Association, GFOA. And this is a program that has been underway since last year around budgeting for equity, budgeting with an equity lens. And we’ve just started to provide some of that technical assistance support to the cities who are in the program. This just started in March. And what you just said Kirsten is a sentiment that is shared in retrospect, equity, for some communities has been on the table for some period of time for other communities, it is a priority that is now taking center stage in the part of the sense is, we don’t have great mechanisms to ensure the thoughtful allocation of resources, with the with, with equity on our minds, to be thinking everything from business support small business support to supporting people in need to even your arts community, and thinking about race from an artists perspective. And are you are we funding those the way that we should? And step one was, well, how might you take a foray into this, and many communities tried last year, as you’ve just mentioned, with CARES resources. And for some communities, the feeling was, well, we added a question to our budget request form. And we said, Please tell us how your request for more budget ties in with our objective for equity. First and foremost, we learned having a definition of equity for your community is hugely important. Some communities did and others didn’t. We have talked with GARE, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, and some of the work that they’ve done to really help make sure that it’s race forward as you’re considering an equity objective, but having that goal understood well, so that you could evaluate does this, does this budget request actually impact our objective? Well, what’s our objective? That’s going to be a critical point number one, and then beyond that, is actually getting super clear on, well, what is it that we can do that, that is specific to our community? And I’ll give you an example, in Denver, they are very aware of certain neighborhoods and certain segments of the population that have lower scores in their equity indicator, for example. And they were thinking of even providing snow removal, I think, is on residential sidewalks, in order to help certain populations make sure that they can access the local bus stop. Because they, the vehicle ownership was low in their neighborhoods, and if they, if Denver could actually provide a higher level of service for snow removal, keep the sidewalks clear people could access the bus stop and access the economy access their jobs. So all of a sudden, you’re thinking about a budget request for snow removal, that actually ties to economic opportunity for people with low vehicle ownership. And we’re watching this thing unfold. We’re like, Man, this is the way to do it. You we have to know what we’re striving to achieve. We have to have the metrics on our own society and our own people, and then have targeted solutions to really help people. Specifically, in Denver’s case, the snow removal example is like right on target.

Kirsten Wyatt  32:52

And, you know, we’re talking about, you know, a $350 billion rescue plan. And then also just this morning or late yesterday, President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package, you know, was announced, and obviously that is still subject to, to approval. But as we’re thinking about the possible uses of these funds, the ARP funds, and then the potential for some of this infrastructure investment in the future, which again, is still uncertain. What advice do you have if someone’s kind of weighing, do we invest in infrastructure now? Do we invest in technology? You know, obviously, you know, you’ve shared that, you know, maybe not starting a new program that’s going to need sustaining funds isn’t isn’t a good investment. But if we’re kind of trying to weigh infrastructure versus technology, you know, where do you fall? What advice would you give? Knowing what what is available now? And what could be available in the future?

Chris Fabian  33:53

And I will be first out great question. Second, I should clarify my my point from earlier was, I think it is okay to consider the use of one time resources for immediate, ongoing, immediate needs, that might represent themselves as an ongoing program. If we if we’re fully aware that of what we’re getting ourselves into. And my point was, also, don’t put all of the resources there. Like if we can carve out a small amount 10-15% and say, we’re going to, we’re going to go and support people, even though we know it’s not the best use of one time resources. It’s what our community needs. We’re in favor of that. But back to the the idea of infrastructure, technology, ongoing programmatic needs. Our first place to start was we were thinking about trying to be as clear as possible about what the different programs support. If I’m a budget director, I’m trying to understand how if there’s a different program coming for infrastructure, different tranche of resources that maybe I won’t use my ARP resources for infrastructure, because I already have some other money coming for that priority. So the idea is how to try and not be redundant, if at all possible, knowing that it’s hard because there’s so many different programs coming out. There was another one helping out, restaurants, local restaurants. There’s a component of the American Rescue Plan that was separate from the direct support for local governments. That’s their way of thinking, how do you make sure that you’re isolating the use of that funds and not using not being redundant with your ARP resources overall, that was our first thought. Once you get past that, just trying to eliminate redundancy, then the rest of the ARP is just following direct programmatic support for people in need, budget stabilization, reserve replenishment, any interim budget amendments that you might look at a lot of communities have an adopted budget that includes plans to make big cuts by sometime this year. And now we can really reconsider or make amendments to that budget in a positive way. And prioritize well, should we restore everything that we cut last year, should we automatically fund what we were going to cut out of this year’s budget. And then the following areas are those big swings towards partnerships and, and major results.

Kirsten Wyatt  36:38

Anything else that you think local governments need to be aware of, you know, right now, as they’re, you know, starting to get their heads around this, you know, a lot of local governments are in, you know, budget development right now, for fiscal year starting in July, anything that you would like to kind of advise or push out to listeners that they should be aware of at this point in time.

Chris Fabian  37:03

Knowing that it’s, I mean, think of 2020. And how, how much change, there’s just constant change, the situation is always changing. In this scenario, it’s kind of in the reverse, it’s changed for the positive, we have new sources of resources coming out in different ways. ResourceX, and we’re going to be promoting this through ELGL. We have our cohort program and budgeting for resiliency, which has a direct intersection with how to use these resources to make sure that you’re setting yourself up on a path with resiliency towards the future. So that was, that was one plug for if there are any additional opportunities to partner that way. That’s a top vote. In addition, we’re going to continue to provide I believe it’s weekly webinar series starting not next week, but the week of the 12th. Going through from it’s like Maslow’s hierarchy, we’re going to start with the most urgent needs. How do you how do you lead your organization through a process to find out who are the people in immediate need of relief? And what what should you be funding to support them that isn’t redone with other programs? The second week we’re going to go into Okay, so for anybody who had funded programs last year using emergency reserves, the worry is well, that those were one time funds as well. Do you have enough of your ARP resources to backfill for those programs? And should you actually backfill those programs? Or should you take advantage of the opportunity to sunset something or provide a lesser level of service? The third week, we’re going to get into interim budget amendments, how to tackle anything that’s committed to right now in terms of reduction, and rethink it. The fourth week, we’re going to get into how to spend some of your one time money to save more ongoing resources like how do you find those opportunities? Where are they? Is it just fleet mergers? Is it just partnerships like that? Or are there creative entrepreneurial revenue generating opportunities as well? And then the fifth and final week is going to be looking towards those mega results, like what does it take to start breaking out a climate action plan? And how can we use the resources from infrastructure from ARP to fund those? We would love to promote that via ELGL as well just, These are free webinars. And we’re just going to keep the conversation up to date with the nature of the funds as they are made known.

Kirsten Wyatt  39:43

Wonderful. And you know, this episode will air on Friday, April 2, and we will get those items on our calendar and push those out to our members because again, tremendous learning opportunities and a way to do really actively Be learning more engaging, and then, you know making the best use of of these ARP funds as well. So thank you for that.

Chris Fabian  40:08

Thank you. And I will also make sure to look out for your announcement. And we’ll attach our, our paper, because we were trying to identify these tiers, these five levels, if you will, in a way that any local government leader can say, conceptually, this is going to be our game plan. As we’re thinking about prioritizing these resources, we tried to write it in a way that someone could submit to their city council and say, we’re going to put real dollars to people in need versus emergency budget stabilization. But these are, effectively the the internal trenches in our organization that we’re going to bucket the money.

Kirsten Wyatt  40:51

Wonderful. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise today, and for also providing these ongoing learning opportunities. I do have one last important question. And that is if you could be the Gov love DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

Chris Fabian  41:10

Oh, man. Give me one second. I won’t belabor it. Oh, boy. I have been listening to a lot of Black Keys lately. Okay. You know, I honestly would have to go back to you, Alyssa and the 2019 Gov Love podcast, I might be coming up with the exact same song. But there’s a there’s a money song. Gold on the ceiling. Gold on the ceiling is what I’m looking for. I don’t know if that’s the name of the song itself. But that’s you can hear that verse in your head if you’re familiar with the song. Well, and that’s what we’re looking at. It’s like these are the resources our golden opportunity. It’s it’s right, it’s right within our grasp. That’s the song I’d like to walk out.

Kirsten Wyatt  42:04

Perfect. And Pizza Mike, Mike Montgomery from Colorado Springs is our producer on this episode. So we will turn it over to him to find that song and play it as our exit music today. But most importantly, just want to thank you again for joining us on Gov love, and again, sharing your expertise and your perspective with us.

Chris Fabian  42:25

Thank you, Kirsten, this is such an exciting time to be a local government leader, and be in the mix with everybody who is, you know, who characterize some of the challenges of using these funds, but holy smokes, these are amazing times to really deploy these resources in a strategic way and create a future that we can all be really excited about. There’s my closing comments.

Kirsten Wyatt  42:48

Absolutely. And again, I mean, a huge part of what we do at ELGL is try to find the joy and the excitement, and the and the wonder and the possibility in local government. And so thank you for ending on that note, it’s exactly what we want to try to remind people of when they choose to work at the local level in public service. So thanks for that great reminder. Gov Love is produced by a rotating cast of ELGL volunteers. ELGL is the Engaging Local Government Leaders network and you can reach us at ELGL.org /GovLove, are on Twitter @GovLovePodcast. And I do have some exciting news to share at the end of this episode. Tickets for the ELGL pop ups conferences are on sale now. ELGL pop ups are our approach to regional conferencing and this year are hosted virtually on May 21st. These events are a great way to learn more about regional and local government topics. Tickets are $10 for students $40 a person or $80 for an all access pass to attend any region’s sessions. We also have volume discounts if you want to sign your whole team up to attend. You can visit ELGLPopUps.com to save your spot. Thank you for listening. This has been Gov Love, a podcast about local government.

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