Shortly after President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, Jefferson City staff had begun preliminary conversations as to how the Capital City might spend the money intended to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.On March 11, Biden signed the $1.9 trillion ARP package, which included $65.1 billion in direct aid to every county in America. Municipalities also were to receive direct aid.In Missouri, the state’s cities stand to receive $1.272 billion, according to the Missouri Municipal League.Jefferson City is expected to receive about $7.64 million in ARP funding, according to the MML.The funds will go directly to the city in two payment rounds, said Margie Mueller, director of finance and ITS. The first 50 percent of funding will be distributed initially and the other 50 percent 12 months later.The city completed the registration and application for the funds Thursday, Mueller said.According to the U.S. Treasury, the review process takes about four business days before the first round of funding will go out.While the arrival of the funds appears to be near, city staff has been adamant there isn’t a rush to spend the money — even back in March.“Everything has to be in compliance with federal guidelines and city guidelines and guidance from our auditors,” City Administrator Steve Crowell said of the potential funding at a March meeting. “I know there’s a temptation to want to start spending some of that money now, but I think it would be best to put together some general areas for council to discuss and then staff when we get some specific recommendations.”There are restrictions for what the funding can be used. For instance, it can’t be used to “replenish rainy day funds,” according to the Treasury.Crowell also noted the funds can’t be used to offset a drop in tax revenues or for pensions.The goal of the funding, according to the Treasury, is to address health care and economic needs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.At the March meeting, Crowell said the city also needs to consider regulations from the state about how the funding could be used along with federal regulations.“Even though there may be some expenditures allowed under the federal act, the state constitution also has some limitations that may apply,” he said. While the regulations regarding the funds have some specifics, the language is really quite broad, he said.For instance, he said, federal regulations would allow the city to transfer funds to area nonprofit groups for efforts related to the pandemic. It could also be used for water, sewer, transit, airport and broadband projects, Crowell said.“The act is very broad, in my opinion,” he said. “It does provide some specifics, but the language is broad, and I fully expect there to be some additional guidance from Treasury and other departments.”On Thursday, Mayor Carrie Tergin said the conversations about the funds started at a high level and will continue there.“We’ll be working together with council to make sure that we will be finding out what, as we work through what the guidelines are and what it can be used for, would be the most beneficial to the city and working through this pandemic,” she said. “What some of these needs are.”The staff will bring to city committees their recommendations for how to use the funds. Ultimately, the City Council will make the final decisions on how to use the funds.Crowell said he plans to bring up the topic with the City Council at a May 24 work session.