Marlborough City Council overturns vote on ARPA spending allowances

MARLBOROUGH — Marlborough City Council voted on Monday to overturn a vote from late last year to accept the city’s ARPA money package totaling nearly $12 million.

The initial approval had given Mayor Arthur Vigeant broad ability to spend the allowance.

This new decision was made following a request from Council Vice-Chair Kathleen Robey and Councilor Samantha Perlman. It passed 7-2 with two councilors absent, withdrawing that earlier approval and triggering a new process to direct the funds.

In a letter to city council written on December 16, Mayor Arthur Vigeant wrote that the funds could only be used for four main purposes. He said his office’s intention was “to use the vast majority of these funds to invest in water and sewer projects.”

However, the federal Treasury Department later issued new guidelines, saying the first $10 million of those funds could be used for “general government services.”

Following this change, a list of capital projects proposed by Vigeant included less than $3 million for the originally discussed category of water and sewer projects, according to city council chairman Michael Ossing.

The rest of the money would be spent on other projects and efforts under Vigeant’s plan.

“We were told one thing in December,” Ossing said. “We receive the package in March, that’s not what we were told.”

“As advisers, you should be upset about this,” he continued, addressing his colleagues.

Advisors share their thoughts

Other councilors weighed in, arguing for and against a vote to overturn the council’s initial approval.

“I think it’s important that the council has another opportunity given how transformative this…money is for the town of Marlborough,” Perlman said.

Councilor Laura Wagner said she would not support rescinding the acceptance, saying she was concerned about the dynamics of several recent council decisions.

Wagner said city council members lacked the expertise to determine how funds should be prioritized between departments.

Wagner also said some orders, such as a planned fire truck purchase, must be ordered with a two-year lead time.

Wagner also said some of the funding allocations proposed under Vigeant’s plan, such as completing a walking trail around Williams Lake and creating a dog park, would be quality-of-life improvements. residents.

“I respectfully suggest that what we’re doing is refocusing people in this community,” Wagner said.

Ossing, however, said he did not believe the city’s department heads were all in agreement in supporting the allocations proposed by the mayor.

Robey later added that the council had received a letter from Vigeant that she guessed “he doesn’t really want to be put on record”. She described it as an “interesting” response to the rescission order.

Robey said she didn’t think anyone on the city council would disagree with Vigeant’s allowances if they related to the four things he originally said he planned to use the money for.

“When the rules changed and he was able to spend it on, in his opinion, whatever he wanted, that’s where I have a problem, and I hope the rest of this advice does. “Robey said.

Cancellation vote follows recent clashes between city council and mayor

It is the latest in a series of contentious exchanges between the city council and the mayor.

The majority of these recent disagreements have centered on Marlborough’s proposed West Side fire station and a series of moves to buy land for its eventual construction.

Vigeant recently vetoed a council order in this regard.

That veto is pending before the board, though Ossing noted in comments to the Community Advocate last week that the board could potentially override it as early as May 9.

The community advocate contacted Vigeant regarding the council’s nullification vote. Vigeant was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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James V. Hayes