DUNEDIN — Talk about having a big bucket list. City officials and commissioners are planning on how to use $18.3 million they expect to receive from the federal government.

Along those lines, they want to hear from the public on the American Rescue Plan Act funding.

During a discussion at a work session Oct. 5, City Manager Jennifer Bramley said three meetings with the public will be held.

Meeting details are:

• For businesses: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 9-11 a.m., Dunedin Commission Chambers

• For residents: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 6-8 p.m., Dunedin Public Library

• For not-for-profits: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2-4 p.m., Dunedin Public Library

There will also be opportunities for citizen input through surveys on city social media platforms.

After the input is gathered, city officials plan to put the program together to present to commissioners at the end of January.

City officials emphasized they have to be methodical in planning for the use of the funds to meet the federal government's criteria under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

"They don't want you to put money in reserves and not spend it," Dunedin Finance Director Les Tyler said.

They are reviewing department heads' list of projects while working with consultants.

Among the projects that drew commissioners' comments at the work session is the Highlander Pool replacement project.

In the city's fiscal year 2022 business plan and budget, $3 million is included for the pool project. The work includes replacing the existing pool with a new pool, pump and mechanical facilities.

Amenities including restrooms, offices and support bath house facilities will require additional funding.

As discussed in previous meetings, some commissioners want the pool project to be more extensive.

Noting that pool replacement was one of the city's signature projects, Commissioner Moe Freaney said she sees "it as an amazing opportunity to get the pool done in one main project, which is more efficient. I think it will be able to save us money … We could actually get it done by the end of the decade, which will be awesome."

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski echoed Freaney's remarks, saying she wants it to be more than a lap pool. 

"I would like to see us do our pool right. I would like to see community input on it," Bujalski said.

Special events figure prominently in plans for the use of the Recovery Act funds, too. Funds can be used for any and all event expenses.

Some business owners expressed appreciation to commissioners for the support during the pandemic through various actions.

Jason Siebert, who operates Flanagans on Main Street, said he was told by commission two years ago that he had to shut down his business because of the pandemic. 

He thanked city officials for taking into the account the loss of revenue businesses and employees incurred when discussing use of the Recovery Act funds.

"I appreciate what you have done over the past few years here, further back too. Thank you for your consideration for this because it is a big deal," he said. "I'm doing everything I can on my end to make sure not just myself but my staff is taken care of."

Proposed funding in fiscal year 2022 for special events assistance in Dunedin, including allocations for nonprofit organizations, businesses and the city, is $402,700.

The American Rescue Plan Act was enacted on March 11. The stimulus package, according to city memos, included $350 billion provided to state and local governments. For the first time, all municipal governments are entitled to a direct, non-competitive federal formula grant from the U.S. Treasury Department.