Council agrees to use $1.375M in ARPA funds to upgrade human resources software

The American Rescue Plan Act was the second federal response to the economic calamity caused by the shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 in 2020. Charlottesville was awarded a total of $19.6 million and Council was asked Monday to approve three allocations totalling $1,710,854. 

  • $1,375,854 for Human Resources to purchase the “Success Factor HRIS system” which will be used to manage collective bargaining in the city. 
  • $240,000 to update the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan. 
  • $95,000 for the Charlottesville Fire Department, which includes $30,000 for public safety messaging materials, $5,000 for “Stop the Bleed” kits, and $60,000 for ballistic vests.

“If you adopt or if you approve the resolution of all of these transfers, that will leave us without about $2 million left in our ARP funds,” said Finance Director Chris Cullinan. “That’s roughly ten percent of our original allotment.” 

Cullinan said all ARPA spending must be completed by the end of 2026. 

Councilor Michael Payne wanted to know why the human resources project made the cut for funding. Cullinan said the existing system is out of date. 

“Our Human Resources Department quite frankly is in need of an information system to manage all of the city’s human resources information,” Cullinan said. “Employee information, compensation, learning management, training, all of those things. With collective bargaining on the horizon there’s a greater need to make sure we can centrally collect that information, manage it, be able to understand all of the different inputs and outputs resulting from that.” 

Cullinan said this software will interact with the city’s existing financial software and is eligible for funding through ARPA. The first round of collective bargaining will take place sometime this year. 

“This is one of our highest management priorities,” said interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. “We’ve got to provide support to strengthen our human resources department.” 

Rogers said the software is part of the modernization of the city’s processes. 

Payne said he would have liked to have seen more options than the ones recommended by staff. 

“No malice towards any of the recommendations which are all very reasonable but we never got to see what other possible allocations were left on the table,” Payne said. 

Payne would have liked to have seen options related to homelessness and implementing the climate action plan.  He was the lone vote against the allocations, which passed 4 to 1. 

Further usage of the ARPA funds will be discussed at the Council’s upcoming strategic retreat.

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