The American Rescue Plan offers a generational opportunity for our municipalities, not just to recover from the pandemic, but to thrive well into the future. It is this forward-looking aspect of the ARP that is most consequential. How best can we utilize this money to create a lasting impact?
All across North Carolina, cities and towns are developing plans and programs specifically geared towards this question, and history shows us that these projects will be successful. When our municipalities receive financial support, they achieve substantial successes. Cities get the job done.
This ongoing series will showcase those projects, plans, and transformational investments, both to highlight the end-to-end impressive work of our municipalities and to share best practices with other cities and towns.
Lewisville’s citizen-minded, forward-looking approach had already proven itself successful. Through the American Rescue Plan, those accomplishments are now even more secured.
- Lewisville, NC
ARP Funds Received: $4,024,000
As an infusion of support and resources, the American Rescue Plan can stand as a magnifier of a community’s present circumstances. It speeds up the process for growing towns and expands projects for towns pursuing large investments and altogether amplifies cities’ unique situations.
For Lewisville, the present circumstances are of a town firmly following a strategic long-term vision. This approach had served the town well since its incorporation in 1991, establishing it as a residential haven in North Carolina’s Triad region. Now, bolstered by the support of ARP funds, Lewisville’s method is marching forward with reassurance, seeming to create a near-guarantee of future success in Lewisville.
To understand the town’s goals for its ARP allocation, it’s important to first understand the town as it stands today. Just west of Winston-Salem, the Town of Lewisville is an enviable residential community that has steadily earned its strong footing in the community since its incorporation. “Just through organic growth, Lewisville is an incredibly desirable community to live in,” said Mike Horn, Mayor of Lewisville. Horn has served on the Town Council since 1993, and credits Lewisville’s success to the vision set forth by the town from its outset: to recognize the town’s smalltown character and to maintain that character through intentional and closely managed planning.
It’s been an effective strategy, Horn says, noting that the town’s upward trend has been fueled almost entirely by residential growth. Through its organic growth and financial discipline, the town has not raised property tax rates in 19 years. In fact, the most recent adjustment to the tax rate was a decrease. “We had a vision of what we wanted to do, and we had the ability to budget and fund those investments every year over through a rigorous planning process and a shared vision by successive councils,” said Horn. “What we’ve done as a town has been remarkable.”
The town has used its American Rescue Plan funding as general fund revenue replacement to be able to fund specific projects, including:
- Roadway, sidewalk and landscaping improvements to the town’s gateway
- Enhancements to The Great Wagon Road throughfare construction
- Construction of intersection roundabouts
- Extension of sidewalks
- Rewriting of the town’s Unified Development Ordinances
- Matching funding for a recently awarded PARTF grant
- Establishment of a capital reserve to fund a new public works facility
- Installation of solar panels on the town’s new community center
- Installation of EV charging stations in the town square
Spend in areas that further Lewisville’s already-established long-term strategic vision
- Invest in in long-term needs of the town now, while still reserving funds for future needs
- Allow for citizens to participate in the process through the boards and committees
The ARP money is spread across town. It won’t be evident in just one or even two large projects. Rather, Lewisville will be investing in new and ongoing projects that fit within Lewisville’s comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of residents and a growing community. It’s a testament to the town’s planning and financial stability. The American Rescue Plan dollars will address the town’s current needs and support the town’s vision for the future.
For its first round of investments, Lewisville looked primarily to support transportation and public spaces that are central components of Lewisville’s network of community spaces. “To maintain and grow a sense of community, you have to have spaces where residents can come together,” said Horn. “Our investment in parks, programs and events, particularly at our town’s centerpiece facility Shallowford Square, has created a welcoming atmosphere you can only find in small-town America.
“I think all of us look at this funding as an opportunity to do things sooner rather than later for our residents,” said Horn. “Eventually, we would do a lot of these projects, but it would be stretched over a longer period of time. We’ve been able to accelerate our schedule.”
Looking ahead, and again due to the town’s already-achieved foundation, Lewisville was able to keep a portion of its ARP allotment available in 2023 for potential new ideas. The town will go about that process in a citizen-led way through its boards and committees. Led by residents volunteering their time, Lewisville will encourage these board and committee members to submit investment requests. This process aims to capture new ideas not already floating around Town Hall and to allow the citizens their say in the use of these once-in-a-generation funds.
“In addition to the priorities established in our comprehensive plan, we ask our boards and committees to submit requests during our budget cycle for the things they want to do,” said Horn. “While we do this every year, the ARP will make additional money available to do those things.” Mayor Horn offers examples of the Public Safety Committee, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Board, Environmental Sustainability and Conservation Committee or Beautification Committee that may recommend additional resources or projects to enhance the safety and well-being of our residents.
“We made a promise, to maintain Lewisville as the place you really want to come home to at the end of the day,” said Horn. “That’s what this council and the many councils before us have been doing. And that’s what we will continue to do.”
Keep up to date on all of our ARP case studies on Here We Grow, at herewegrownc.org/case-studies.