NARC Presents the 2023 Regional Leadership and Achievement Awards

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) presented its 2023 Leadership and Achievement Awards on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 during an awards ceremony held at the NARC 57th Annual Conference & Exhibition.    

“As President, I am thrilled and overjoyed to congratulate the exceptional award winners,” said NARC President Jennifer Robinson, Council Member of Cary, NC and board member of Triangle J Council of Governments. “Their remarkable achievements not only inspire us all, but also reinforce the boundless potential of our commitment to regionalism. Their dedication, talent, and unwavering commitment to excellence are the true pillars of success.”

Nine projects received 2023 Achievement Awards and six regional leaders received 2023 Leadership Awards. More information about this year’s recipients can be found below.


Oregon Cascades West Council of GovernmentsSeamless Transit Project
Within the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments service area, there are eight unique transit agencies that provide public transit service within and across the region. Each agency has its own individual website with corresponding schedules, fares, and service area information. Before this project, each agency was at a different level of implementing transit technology, such as real-time vehicle information and mobile ticketing. Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments coordinated with all eight transit agencies over the course of the project to create a centralized website, a new regional brand, procure GPS hardware and software to enable real-time information for all 60 buses, and pilot mobile ticketing for agencies that desired it.   

Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission | Institute for Livable & Equitable Communities
The Institute for Livable & Equitable Communities at the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) program has been instrumental in promoting and exemplifying regional excellence by convening critical partners and acting as a central point of coordination for a long-term, multi-faceted effort. 

San Luis Obispo Council of GovernmentsTransportation Efficiency Analysis
The Transportation Efficiency Analysis is a proactive tool used to identify transportation barriers to housing production. It is changing the way they prioritize project funding and allows them to better compete for funding to implement needed infrastructure projects.

Broward Metropolitan Planning OrganizationBroward Vision: The Path to 2100
Vision 2100 (adopted in 2019) is an aspirational vision conceived by the Broward MPO in Florida to help facilitate a paradigm shift from the historical approach to growth, development, and transportation investments and how current solutions to the resulting problems are being outpaced by future needs.

Centralina Regional CouncilARPA Fund Implementation Support Program
The ARPA Fund Implementation Support Program was developed to help communities faced with challenges in making strategic spending decisions for the $800 million in federal funding that came to the Centralina region via ARPA.  

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for PlanningIllinois International Port Project
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) Illinois International Port District (IIPD) Master Plan is the result of years of effort and collaboration to address a long-identified need for improvements to the region’s port district.

Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating AgencyTowpath Trail
One of the most significant regional projects in Northeast Ohio, as well as Central Ohio, is the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. This trail runs 101 miles north and south, from its northernmost trailhead in Canal Basin Park in downtown Cleveland to its southernmost trailhead in Canal Lands Park in New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. The Towpath Trail follows the historic path where mules pulled canal boats laden with passengers and goods up and down the historic Ohio & Erie Canal from 1827 to 1913.  

Sacramento Area Council of GovernmentsGreen Means Go
Green Means Go, a proposed $400 million pilot program, is SACOG’s solution to accelerate infill development by reinvesting in city cores to make it easier to walk, bike and roll to destinations, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and addressing California’s housing shortage.

Tampa Bay Regional Planning CouncilRegional Resiliency Action Plan
The Regional Resiliency Action Plan is a living document created to address resilience challenges prioritized by intergovernmental and community collaboration and intended to guide action over the next five years. Through the planning process, the planning team engaged stakeholders through online meetings, in-person workshops, and surveys that allowed the document to be shaped to reflect the wide range of expertise and geographic area.


Andrew Gruber: Executive Director, Wasatch Front Regional Council
Under Andrew Gruber’s 13 years of direction, the Wasatch Front Regional Council’s (WFRC) leadership in the region has grown tremendously. Andrew knows that for an MPO to lead, it needs to elevate partnerships.

Mark Policinski: Executive Director, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments
Mark Policinski is celebrating his 20th year as CEO & Executive Director of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI). Since his arrival to the agency, Mark has been a recurring member of the 100 Most Powerful Leaders in the Tri-State by Cincy Magazine. Under Mark’s leadership, OKI has become a perennial national model of what a metropolitan planning agency can become to a region.  He has changed the culture of the entire OKI organization, top to bottom, to the benefit of the 2.1 million residents who live and work in the OKI region.

Becky Bradley: Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director
Becky Bradley is an exemplary leader and planner with a remarkable track record of accomplishments that demonstrate her dedication to creating sustainable, equitable and livable communities. Her achievements have made a significant impact on the Lehigh Valley region and serve as a model for other planners across the nation.  

Gregory StuartExecutive Director, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization
Gregory Stuart is the executive director of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and serves in a number of ways at the local, state, and national level. Mr. Stuart works with tireless dedication to improve the transportation landscape in Broward and the state of Florida and, more often than not, ends up leaving the world in a better state than he found it. 

Rick DunneExecutive Director, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
Rick has demonstrated professional and executive management excellence on the local, state, and national level. Rick efforts have established him as a leader and trusted advocate for regional concepts, approaches, and programs. He has devoted decades to serving the public interest through his contributions on the local, regional, state, and federal levels.

Geof BensonFormer Commissioner, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission
Geof has served actively on the NIRPC Commission for 15 years and was twice elected Chair of Commission, which is an honor granted to only one other NIRPC chair in recent memory. He has developed relationships with NARC members across the country and has always actively brought other NIRPC Commissioners into the NARC fold and onto NARC Board positions and leadership. Geof served as President of the NARC Board in 2019, was chair of the NARC Environment Committee for over 4 years, and served on the NARC Board overall for 11 years.

They Made a Deal

Late Saturday, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced that they had agreed to a deal that would raise the debt limit.  What emerged appears to be a true meet-you-halfway compromise, with neither side getting all that it wanted.  The President had wanted a clean bill, and the Speaker had wanted significant cuts to domestic discretionary funds while increasing substantially funding for defense.  As more and more information becomes available, what is becoming abundantly clear that If adopted, the bill, entitled the Fiscal Responsibility Act would have a significant impact on states and localities, though not nearly as great as would have been the case had many of the provisions of the House bill, entitled the Limit, Save, Grow Act, had been adopted.  These included a ten-year freeze on domestic discretionary funding based on fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations, major changes to fossil fuel energy permitting rules, elimination of student loan forgiveness, expansion of work requirements for food assistance, welfare, and Medicaid recipients, and termination of some of some pieces of the Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for raising the debt ceiling one year. 

Instead, each side got some of what they wanted, but not all.  The president did get the debt ceiling raised until January 1, 2025, and the speaker did get a near freeze on domestic discretionary funding, but only for two years and based on FY2023 spending levels.  The speaker also got expanded work requirements for some food assistance recipients, but not for Medicaid or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).  Significant changes to fossil fuel energy permitting rules were set aside due to time constraints, and the student loan forgiveness program was left intact, though the date on which interest begins to accrue was moved forward. 

For local governments and regions, the biggest impact may come from the rescission of funds previously provided through COVID legislation. The Fiscal Responsibility Act would immediately rescind unobligated funds that had previously been provided under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, or CRRSSA. This provision provided $10 billion for states to spend on projects that are eligible under the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and required that a portion of the $10 billion be suballocated to areas of more than 200,000 people.  The approximately $2.2B in unobligated amounts that remain under this section will no longer be available once the Fiscal Responsibility Act is signed into law.

The debt ceiling package will also rescind funds from other programs and other legislation (including the American Rescue Plan) that will impact local governments and regions as well. The full picture of the impact of these rescissions is not yet clear.

It now appears that the rescissions outlined in the act are likely to impact in significant ways state and local governments.  Though domestic discretionary funding makes up a small slice of the federal budget — not quite 15 percent — it accounts for most, if not all of the money that flows to states and localities, according to Governing.  It is also the category from which most of the rescissions are being made.  Therefore, any reduction or freeze on spending will have a significant impact on individual programs.  Overall, the rescissions outlined in the bill would cut spending by more than $28 billion. 

Here is what we do know.  In addition to the Fiscal Responsibility Act rescinding billions in Covid relief funds despite federal health officials’ concerns that these cuts would impact efforts to stem future viral outbreaks, like mpox, the deal would also rescind $21.4 billion of the $80 billion that had been provided to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to modernize and improve customer service.  The bill includes only a $1.4 billion rescission, the additional $20 billion is part of a “gentlemen’s agreement” to further cut IRS funding.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act contains changes to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) and makes minor changes to permitting requirements.  It requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report on the employment outcomes for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in line with reporting requirements for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act but does not establish work requirements. 

Changes to the work requirements for those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits was changed.  The upper age limit was raised to 54 from 49 though homeless persons, veterans, and youth aging out of foster care are exempt. Finally, it lifts the moratorium on student loan payments and prohibits the Department of Education from establishing future moratoria on payments but does not end the program as had been hoped for by the Speaker.

Here are some examples provided by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).  The largest cut – nearly $10 billion – would come from Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.  The Highway Infrastructure Program would be cut by more than $2 billion, followed by the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program and the CDC-Wide Activities and Program Supports, each of which would be cut by slightly more than $1.7 billion.  Also cut would be the SBA’s Disaster Loans Program Account, the USDA’s pandemic response program, and state unemployment insurance and employment service operations funds, each of which would be cut by between $1 and $1.5 billion.   The Child Care and Development Block Grant, important to working parents who cannot afford child-care including SNAP and TANF recipients, would be cut by $278 million, Federal Emergency Management Agency federal assistance would be cut by $25 million.  Grants to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK) would be cut by $2 billion.

On Tuesday, May 30, the House Rules Committee is expected to review and approve the bill for floor consideration.  On Wednesday the House is expected to adopt the bill.  From there it will go to the Senate for its consideration.  The Senate is expected to work through the weekend to ensure that the bill is adopted by June 5, the date the U.S. Treasury Department says the U.S. will run out of the funds to pay its bills.

A section-by-section description of the bill can be found here.

USDOT Announce New Guidance and $6.4 Billion to Help States Reduce Carbon Emissions

Date: April 21, 202

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration today announced a new program that unlocks $6.4 billion in formula funding for states and localities over five years. The new Carbon Reduction Program (CRP), created under the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help states develop carbon reduction strategies and address the climate crisis facing our nation.

Your Help Needed to Increase Funding for HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program

Date: April 11, 202

Please urge your members of Congress to support HOME in FY 2023 appropriations. Please urge your local, state, and regional partners to support the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program and urge Congress to direct renewed investment of $2.5 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 through the National Sign On Letter by COB Friday, April 22.

NARC and AMPO Submit Public Comments to FHWA on IIJA Implementation

Date: April 8, 2022

In a letter to the Federal Highway Administration, the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) and the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) write to jointly request consideration of the following comments in response to the Request for Information (RFI) (Docket No. FHWA-2021-0021) that was published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2021.

Your Help Needed to Increase Funding for the Older Americans Act

Date: April 12, 2022

Please call your Representatives and urge them to sign the Bipartisan OAA Funding Letter sponsored by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) calling for increases in OAA funding for this year. Rep. Bonomici, along with Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and John Katko (R-NY), is sponsoring a “Dear Colleague” letter calling for a doubling of fiscal year 2023 OAA Title III “aging independently”  programs.  Signatures for the Bonamici-Stefanik OAA sign-on letter are due Friday, April 22.
OAA programs are facing stagnant funding levels along with declining emergency funds. These fund levels are inadequate to meet the growing numbers of older adults needing support. Please encourage your representatives to join Reps. Bonamici and Stefanik in calling for increased OAA funding.  If adopted it would increase funding for OAA Title III B Supportive Services, Title III C Nutrition, Title III D Evidence-Based Health Promotion and Prevention Programs and Title III E National Family Caregiver Support Program.
For more information click here:
USAging’s request to double FY 2023 funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III programs.
Again, signatures for the Bonamici-Stefanik OAA sign-on letter are due Friday, April 22. 

NARC Celebrating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) One Year Anniversary

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the historic investment in the nation from passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Throughout the week the White House has been celebrating the one-year anniversary by highlighting achievements made possible by the passage of the bill relevant information, fact sheets, and toolkits for communities. The $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package was designed to facilitate the United States’ recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. ARPA included $350 billion in aid to states, cities, tribal governments, and U.S. territories. 

ARPA authorized the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, including $65.1 billion in direct, flexible aid to every county, parish and borough in America. It represents a strong federal-state-local partnership and an investment in localities on the front-line keeping communities healthy, safe and vibrant.  

Funding allocated under the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program is subject to the requirements specified in U.S. Department of the Treasury’s May 17, 2021 interim final rule, which became effective on that date and detailed whether a program, project or service was an eligible use. Treasury accepted public comments on the interim final rule through July 16, 2021 and after reviewing some 1,000 submitted comments adopted the final rule in early January 2022.  

On January 6, 2022 Treasury issued the Final Rule for SLFRF program adding clarifications and additional guidance not available under the interim rule. For an in-depth overview of the Final Rule check out the National Association of Counties (NACo) analysis.  

To date, Treasury has distributed more than $245 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments as a part of the SLFRF program, accounting for over 99% of funds eligible to be disbursed in 2021. Recipients of funds were encouraged to begin using funds under the interim final rule, which was released in May 2021 as the final rule does not take until April 1, 2022.   


An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that state governments have appropriated nearly 70% of their available funds as of November 2021. Their review of these spending decisions shows that many states are using the funds constructively: to offset declines in their revenue collections; to address the health, economic, and fiscal impacts of the pandemic and contribute to the economic recovery; and to start new long-term investments to address racial and economic inequities. 

In addition to this analysis of broad state allocated ARPA spending, a partnership between Brookings Metro, the National Association of Counties (NACo), and the National League of Cities (NLC), aimed at highlighting innovative, evidence-based, well-targeted uses of SLFRF ARPA funds. They created the Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker. An online resource that compiles information from local governments to offer a detailed picture of how large cities and counties (with populations of at least 250,000) are deploying funding.  

This tool adds to other important efforts to understand local ARPA implementation, including Results for America’s ARP Data and Evidence Dashboard, and the Treasury Department’s analysis of highlights from initial SLFRF reports. 

Communities have until 2024 to fully plan for and commit their funds, and until 2026 to spend them. Local governments’ initial SLFRF expenditure reports contain useful roadmaps on where they are heading with ARPA funds; large cities and counties (those with populations of at least 250,000) have also delivered the first in a series of annual plans that outline their intended and actual uses of SLFRF dollars.  

Collectively, these reports and tools detail thousands of projects across dozens of eligible expenditure categories and form the data behind the Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker. 


The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) will be collecting information and tracking ARPA spending from regional councils over the next few months. If you have questions or information to share on how you are spending and planning for ARPA dollars please contact Jessica Routzahn at 

Additional Resources:  

COVID-19 Communications Toolkit for Counties 
Utilize NACo’s COVID-19 communications toolkit, including top-level messaging, outreach ideas and templates to share how your county is investing ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds. 

Explore NACo’s ARPA Fiscal Recovery Fund Resources 

Visit NACo’s ARPA Fiscal Recovery Fund Resource Hub to find tools to share your story, explore county best practices, access analysis and more. 

White House ARPA Anniversary Toolkit 

Join the White House and states, cities, counties, territories to amplify the successful, historic, and lasting impact of the American Rescue Plan in social media and your local press! 


Treasury Issues Final Rule: State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program to Support…

Date: January 6, 2022

The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued the Final Rule for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, enacted as a part of the American Rescue Plan (ARPA), which delivers $350 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The SLFRF program ensures governments have the resources needed to respond to the pandemic, including providing health and vaccine services, supporting families and businesses struggling with the pandemic’s economic impacts, maintaining vital public services, and building a strong and equitable recovery. Click here to view the final rule text. Click here to view a user-friendly overview of the major provisions of the final rule. 

Congress Sends Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to Biden’s Desk

Date: November 05, 2021 

Last week the Honorable Alejandra Castillo U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) testified before the Senate Committee on EnviOn November 4, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) tCongress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package Friday, approving a signature part of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. It will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years, touching everything from bridges and roads to the nation’s broadband, water and energy systems. Experts say the money is sorely needed to ensure safe travel, as well as the efficient transport of goods and produce across the country. Democrats claim the bill pays for itself through a multitude of measures and without raising taxes. But the Congressional Budget Office brushed aside several of those pay-for provisions, ultimately finding the bill would add $256 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. It’s significantly smaller than the $2.25 trillion proposal that Biden unveiled in March, known as the American Jobs Plan

OSHA Releases New Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing

Date: November 04, 2021 

Last week the Honorable Alejandra Castillo U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) testified before the Senate Committee on EnviOn November 4, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to require large employers to develop, implement and enforce a COVID-19 vaccination policy or institute a policy to allow employees to choose between vaccination and weekly testing. The ETS applies to employers with 100 employees or more that are subject to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. This includes county governments located in the 26 states with OSHA-approved state plans, which are OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states or U.S. territories. The ETS will take effect on November 5, 2021, and covered employees must have their vaccination policies in place within 30 days. The deadline for employees to be fully vaccinated or begin regular testing is January 4, 2022. OSHA has already initiated a 30-day public comment period. Aside from seeking general comments on all aspects of the rule and how it would be adopted as a final standard, OSHA is seeking public input on nine specific topics.