Milwaukee mayor proposes find out how to spend American Rescue Plan cash

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced on Sunday a plan to use approximately $ 30 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act on housing initiatives.

The proposal requires the approval of the Joint Council and is expected to be adopted before the August break. Barrett said he expected to submit the plan to the council this week.

The money is part of $ 394.2 million in federal funds raised by the city from the American rescue plan law.

Barrett said he wanted to prioritize housing investments in his first plan for the funds.

“I consider housing construction to be one of the most pressing problems the City of Milwaukee is currently facing,” he said at a press conference.

Barrett also considered early childhood education, exemption from residence, internet access, and more to his priorities for the funds of the American rescue plan. Proposals to spend the rest of the money will be made soon, he said.

“This is the first part of my multi-year approach, and there are clearly other needs that we have,” said Barrett. “And part of that is balance.”

More:With millions of federal dollars flowing into Milwaukee, the city faces a historic opportunity to make advances in lead procurement

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Housing investments are critical as foreclosures are a “fourfold hit” for Milwaukee, he said.

Along with families losing a place to live, vacant houses have a knock-on effect on the surrounding community: the city does not levy property taxes on the houses, property values ​​nearby fall, and more city resources must be used to monitor the houses.

In addition to several measures, the proposal provides for US $ 3 million to flow to the city Compliance Loan Program, which enables qualified homeowners to obtain interest-free deferred loans for repairs required to fix code violations.

Westley Jackson Jr., who has owned a house in Milwaukee’s Uptown neighborhood since 1994, received a program loan last year to fix his leaky roof. Barrett held the press conference outside Jackson’s house on Sunday.

Jackson, who is retired and receiving Social Security checks, couldn’t afford to fix the roof himself. He was grateful for the program that enables homeowners to repay their loans on the sale or transfer of the property.

“It’s been a blessing to me,” said Jackson.

Most of the $ 30 million would go to the Westlawn Choice Neighborhood Initiative, a Federally funded project from 2015 the additional funding needed to be completed.

Barrett proposes allocating $ 15 million to the project, the majority of which will be used to fund 326 affordable mixed-income housing units.

The Westlawn project aims to replace a “distressed” public housing development along Silver Spring Drive and to build additional rental apartments and houses at market prices.

About $ 2 million of the proposal would be used to cover remaining infrastructure costs for the Westlawn project, such as new paved roads, alleys, and water and sewer systems. The infrastructure work there is about 80% complete, according to Barrett’s office.

Barrett’s proposal also includes:

  • $ 5 million to help low-income residents fund energy-efficient retrofits to their homes such as improving insulation and HVAC systems, which in turn reduces their energy bills.
  • $ 2 million for three low-income residential projects currently being developed to address pandemic-related economic challenges such as shipping delays, supply bottlenecks and rising material costs.
  • $ 1.8 million in support of a right-to-right program that provides a free lawyer for eligible Milwaukee County residents at risk of eviction. It would also aim to reduce “unscrupulous landlord practices” and unnecessary evictions. The city would cooperate with the Legal Aid Society, among others.
  • $ 1.2 million Expansion of homebuyer and foreclosure advisory programs, funding of six new positions for three years. The counselors provide pre and post home purchase assistance, as well as help with mortgage and foreclosures.
  • $ 1.2 million to fund two-person teams cleaning, repairing, and dismantling the residue of empty Milwaukee Housing Authority homes – to create more housing for people waiting for services. Approximately 92% of the units are currently occupied, and city officials estimate that the additional staff would increase the occupancy to 98% or more.
  • $ 1.2 million towards the Resource center for rental apartments, an organization that provides landlords and tenants with advice and assistance.

The city received half of the $ 394 million and will receive the second half in 10 months, Barrett said. The money has to be spent in about four years.

“This gives us an opportunity to address the very serious problems we have here in Milwaukee,” he said.

More:Milwaukee receives $ 400 million in federal funding. One plan would spend $ 150 million to create over 1,000 affordable housing units.

More:The future of public housing in Milwaukee is vouchers, not buildings – and that could improve housing security

Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or scarson@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter below @SCarson_News.

Mayfield Heights considers utilizing American Rescue Plan cash to offer bonuses to metropolis workers who labored throughout pandemic: Stimulus Watch

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio – A proposal to use federal stimulidollars to provide 4,000 bonuses to Mayfield Heights police officers and firefighters has turned into a potential bonus to all municipal and administrative employees deemed “material” and during the Pandemic worked.

City officials don’t have the money to spend. In fact, they haven’t even been told exactly how much money the city will receive from the American bailout plan over two years. But Estimates from cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer state Mayfield Heights could receive about $ 1.9 million in total.

Finance director Karen Fegan said the city is still considering how to spend its money. However, she confirmed that the proposal to provide bonuses to “all key workers” is being examined. She did not specify which positions are considered important or how many employees it involves, so it is unclear how much bonuses could be paid.

The city initially considered giving $ 4,000 in bonuses paid with American Rescue Plan money only to first responders, in addition to incremental pay increases – paid out of the city’s budget – as in collective agreements with unions, the police, and fire departments and other workers represented, negotiated.

Council members voted on the ordinances to sign the collective agreements during a meeting on May 24, partly due to disagreement over the bonuses and which city servants should receive them. Legislation empowering the mayor to approve the union contracts is back on the council’s agenda on Monday, but it’s unclear whether the agreements include bonuses.

“We talked about a lump sum instead of a percentage every year,” Councilor Gayle Teresi said at the May meeting. “We didn’t know there would be a lump sum and a percentage.”

Teresi said she is in favor of a raise for first responders given their necessary and 24/7 work during the pandemic. However, she was concerned about giving a bonus on top of the raise – especially since she heard city workers say that all employees who worked during the pandemic would receive a bonus, which would be paid in stimulus money.

“Someone who worked at City Hall called and told me everyone was getting a $ 4,000 bonus,” Teresi said. After the meeting, Teresi told a reporter that non-union city workers typically receive a similar raise to union workers, so she wondered who else could get a $ 4,000 bonus.

“Did the mayor (Anthony DiCicco) get it? Will (Finance Director) Ms. Fegan get it? How about some advice? We were there (work and hold meetings) during COVID, “Teresi said a freelancer for Sun Messenger, a sister publication of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.

The US Treasury Department has issued guidelines on how local governments can use their American Rescue Plan dollars. One of the proposals is to “provide premium wages for key workers to provide additional support to those who, as a result of their services in critical infrastructure sectors, face and will bear the greatest health risks”.

“I’m in favor of everyone getting a raise, especially the police and fire departments,” Councilor Robert DeJohn said during the May 24 session. “Here’s my problem: as soon as these two units get their raise, they get everyone else in town – everyone else, including the administrative staff. You will all get this lump sum up to the time you raise your salary. “

Councilor Donald Manno joined DeJohn and Teresi in May against the collective agreements. He said council members should receive a raise or bonus for signing raises for other employees.

“Mr. DeJohn said everyone in town gets the raise,” Manno said. “The council doesn’t get it, but we have to sign it for everyone else. We worked through COVID too – not the same way. But fact If you say that everyone in town hall gets a raise or a bonus, what about the advice? Are we stepchildren? Or what’s going on here? “

Finance director Fegan said compensation to the mayor and council will be determined by a regulation that includes a “nested” calculation based on factors such as increases in the general fund and the consumer price index for the previous year. But her statement didn’t seem to deter councilors hoping for a bonus or raise from the money from the American bailout.

Councilor Michael Ballistrea said he did not know why some of his colleagues were confused. He said notes he took during an earlier meeting suggested Fegan said some of the American bailout money would “most likely” be used for bonuses.

“So that was checked and it was always on the table that this should be done as far as I was concerned,” Ballistrea said.

Stimulus Watch is a public service journalism project run by cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer to track federal grants reaching Northeast Ohio through the US rescue plan. Read more undercleveland.com/stimulus-watch.

Helicopters, money funds and a brand new public well being lab: How state businesses suggest spending Virginia’s rescue fund cash

The Virginia Capitol at sunrise. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Virginia has $4.3 billion in federal aid to spend and no shortage of ideas.

State agencies hoping to tap into American Rescue Plan funds have submitted wish lists that top more than $18 billion, floating proposals ranging from new helicopters for Virginia State Police to $1,000 cash payments for essential workers. 

Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration hasn’t committed to specific line items, but lawmakers are scheduled to convene next month for a special legislative session to decide how to spend the money. 

Discussions are ongoing over whether some of the requests are or aren’t eligible for the federal dollars, which are supposed to have a direct link to the negative effects of the pandemic.

Furthermore, the federal government has earmarked certain funds for specific purposes, such as combating student learning loss due to schools going virtual during the pandemic. And because the state can spend the funds over several years, policymakers may choose to set some money aside to adapt to future needs. Federal dollars put toward some initiatives may also free up state dollars for others not eligible for relief funding.

Most of the spending proposals put forward, from vaccine outreach and utility assistance to fixing the unemployment system and broadband investment, won’t come as a surprise. 

Other spending suggestions are a little less intuitive — or show agencies trying to use the sudden influx of funds to advance efforts that may have been back-burnered in tighter budget years. 

Here’s a sampling of the proposals that caught Mercury reporters’ eyes.  

Compensation for essential workers
Price tag: $800 million

Labor proposals include a suggestion to give $1,000 “hero grants” to low-wage essential workers who stayed on the job during the pandemic.

The funding request for $700 million doesn’t specify exactly which types of workers might qualify, but notes that “premium pay” for essential workers is an explicitly authorized use of the funds.

Higher education officials have also requested up to $100 million for “hero scholarships” to help essential workers who want to further their education. The proposal suggests giving up to $5,000 per year to assist essential workers with getting a GED or college degree.

Jason Chadwick, left, who has worked for Kroger for 20 years, leads other workers in a chant demanding the reinstatement of hazard pay during a protest outside of the Kroger on Lombardy in Richmond, Va., September 3, 2020. (Parker Michels-Boye / For the Virginia Mercury)

COVID resources for non-native English speakers
Price tag: $21 million

A persistent complaint throughout the pandemic has been the state’s dependence on automatic (and often shoddy) translations to provide information about the spread of COVID-19 and roll out of vaccines to non-English speakers.

The approach at one point led the Virginia Department of Health to inform Spanish speakers that “the vaccine is not necessary” where English speakers were informed that it is not required.

Northam’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion proposes setting aside $5 million a year to pay for translation services, as well as hiring a coordinator to create a statewide language access plan for translation needs for state agencies. The office also proposes hiring two full time American Sign Language interpreters and a coordinator dedicated to “incorporating people with disabilities and other access and functional needs” into the state’s emergency and recovery plans.

The rescue fund money would cover four years of work.

A bailout for the state’s unemployment trust fund
Price tag: $1.3 billion

One of the biggest single requests comes by way of the Virginia Employment Commission, which wants $1.3 billion to restore the state’s unemployment trust fund to pre-pandemic levels.

The state relies on the fund to pay for unemployment benefits, which saw an unprecedented 1.3 million initial claims last year and another 300,000 already this year — more than double the applications for assistance the state saw in all of 2019.

The fund would otherwise be rebuilt through a series of hefty payroll tax increases on businesses. And state leaders and the business community have already called heading that off a top priority.

A parking lot outside a UVA dorm was filled with hundreds of state police cruisers in advance of the one year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in 2017. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury – Aug. 8, 2018)

Body cameras and helicopters for state police
Price tag: $40 million

In one of the more tangentially pandemic-related requests, Virginia State Police asked for $19 million to roll out body cameras to their officers.

The department argued that “vulnerable social populations” have seen some of the biggest impacts from COVID and have some of the lowest rates of vaccine acceptance “due to fears and skepticism towards government resulting from systemic marginalization.”

The agency proposes that body cameras will help because they foster transparency that in turn “will establish trust in government and mitigate future spread of COVID-19.”

Their justification for requesting two new helicopters at a cost of $21 million was more clear cut. The agency says they will replace two older units currently used for medical evacuation flights that were “experiencing unacceptable downtime” and “impacting the department’s ability to provide air ambulance services during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

Highway improvements between Richmond and Williamsburg
Price tag: $100 million

The only major road project included in the funding requests is the continued widening of Interstate 64 between Richmond and Williamsburg.

Specifically, transportation planners are suggesting $100 million to help with the costs of widening the interstate in a 29-mile stretch between New Kent County and Williamsburg.

Mitigating congestion on I-64 has been a top priority for Hampton Roads-area leaders.

The request specifies that the new improvements would begin around Exit 205 in New Kent, where a previous widening project between Richmond and New Kent ended in 2019, and continue to exit 234 near Williamsburg.

Capital projects unrelated to COVID-19 generally aren’t intended to be funded through the American Rescue Plan, but the act gives states leeway to spend money on things like roads if the pandemic affected government revenue sources that would typically pay for them.

Mapping overlaps between historic inequities and urban green spaces
Price tag: $500,000

In 2020, a study co-authored by Science Museum of Virginia chief scientist Jeremy Hoffman made national headlines when it found that neighborhoods federal housing officials historically classified as “hazardous” because of their high proportion of low-income and minority residents are hotter than other neighborhoods

The classification, known as redlining, was used by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation between the 1930s and 1968 to guide banks on granting mortgages to homebuyers and led to wide racial gaps in homeownership. 

It also contributed to higher temperatures today in historically minority or disadvantaged neighborhoods, where shade-providing trees are in short supply and large swathes of land have been paved. 

Now the Virginia Department of Forestry wants to use $500,000 to develop heat island maps that pinpoint where higher temperatures overlap with formerly redlined neighborhoods. 

The agency says that “federal guidance aligns funding” with projects such as those that aim to create green infrastructure and improve water quality, both of which can be achieved by planting trees and other flora. 

An electric vehicle charges at a public station in Henrico County, July 2020. (Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)

Electric vehicle infrastructure
Price tag: $33.3 million

With federal guidelines allowing funds to be used to replace lost public sector revenues for services including infrastructure, the Department of Transportation is proposing a hefty investment of $33.3 million in electric vehicle infrastructure. 

Democrats in the General Assembly and the Northam administration spent the last legislative session pushing electric vehicles as a way to reduce transportation emissions, Virginia’s largest contributor to carbon emissions. 

Money was a sticking point, though. Lawmakers acknowledged that infrastructure is lacking in many rural areas. And although the General Assembly signed off on an electric vehicle rebate program, legislators left it unfunded, a situation the law’s sponsor attributed to tight pandemic budgets. 

A tour of the construction of the new Highland Springs High School in Henrico, estimated to cost about $80 million. (Henrico County Public Schools)

School construction and improvements
Price tag: $2.6 billion

Even before the pandemic, school construction was a major issue in Virginia. A recent survey from the state’s Department of Education found that more than half of public school buildings are more than 50 years old. Replacing those aging structures is estimated to cost the state more than $24.7 billion.

Enter the American Rescue Plan. The federal government set aside specific funds for pandemic-related improvements, including new HVAC systems, but VDOE proposes dedicating an additional $2 billion for more general renovation projects. That money would be delivered to local school divisions through a competitive grant fund, according to the agency’s request.

The department is also requesting an additional $600 million for improvements in early and higher education. The majority of that — $500 million over the next three years — would go toward capital improvements for “successful” child care operators, “allowing them to serve additional children and help more parents get back to work.” 

Another $100 million is proposed for modernization efforts at the state’s public colleges and universities, from updated heating systems to new equipment and technology.

A new public health lab
Price tag: $275 million

Virginia’s public health laboratory — once mostly a site for specialized testing and tracking rare diseases — has taken on a whole new importance throughout the pandemic. 

For the first critical weeks, it was the only lab in the state that could test for COVID-19. And over the past year and a half, its responsibilities have expanded dramatically, from sequencing samples of the virus to rapidly detecting new variants.

The Virginia Department of General Services wants to expand those capabilities even further. The agency is asking for $275 million to replace the state’s aging site in downtown Richmond with a “state-of-the-art” new laboratory in Petersburg. The proposed location is on the same campus as Central State Hospital, a state-run psychiatric facility that’s currently undergoing a major renovation. And it would boost capacity for complex and high-volume testing, which is already “nearing its limit” at the existing lab, according to DGS.

A public health emergency fund
Price tag: $10 million

The scramble to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic can be traced, in large part, to decades of underfunding in public health. As Virginia was recording its first cases, some health departments in low-income counties were abruptly closing their doors. And across the state, employees were pulled from critical services like maternal health and environmental monitoring to serve as case investigators or contract tracers.

In those early days, the Virginia Department of Health said it lacked the funding to “quickly ramp up an appropriate operational response.” Now, the agency is requesting $10 million for a public health emergency fund. The money might not be used immediately, but leaders say it would give the department more agility to respond to future pandemics.

Eastern State Hospital in James City County (Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services)

Staffing at state mental hospitals
Price tag: $335.5 million

Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals have been struggling for years with rising admissions. But the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them into crisis mode, with outbreaks making it even more challenging to discharge patients and free up bed space. 

That high patient volume, combined with chronic staffing shortages, have made the facilities “tremendously unsafe,” according to Alison Land, commissioner of the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The agency is requesting more than $300 million over the next several years to boost employment, the majority of which would go to salary increases for essential frontline workers. Another $24 million would be dedicated to security guards and safety improvements at aging facilities.

The department is also requesting millions for community mental health services — part of an ongoing effort to reduce admissions through better front-end treatment. But staffing needs have often been framed as one of the most urgent challenges facing Virginia’s beleaguered mental hospitals.

The sun sets over the James River in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Septic and sewer overflow repairs and replacements
Price tag: $230 million

One of the biggest-ticket items Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has on its wish list is $230 million to help repair and replace failing septic systems, pipes that send waste directly into waterways and “combined sewer overflow” systems that can lead to sewage releases during heavy rainfall.

The federal rescue plan “specifically lists water and wastewater infrastructure as an eligible use,” DEQ says in its justification for the request. 

Of the $230 million, DEQ wants to see $30 million go to Richmond to speed up its ongoing overhaul of the city’s combined sewer overflow system. The agency has also identified $35 million worth of sewage system fixes in Southwest Virginia, as well as millions of dollars of investment in wastewater connections for underserved communities in Surry, Middlesex, Northampton and Accomack counties.

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Minnesota to spend $132 million in federal rescue cash to spice up scholar restoration from pandemic results

June 30, 2021 7:57 pm

Mike Tighe

Posted: Jun 30, 2021 7:57 PM

Updated June 30, 2021 8:06 PM

(Associated press photo)

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (WKBT) – Governor Tim Walz announced Wednesday that Minnesota will be spending $ 132 million in US federal rescue plan education funds to aid student recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
The announcement came after the Minnesota Department of Education presented the state plan to the U.S. Department of Education. The state received a total of $ 1.3 billion for E-12 education as part of the rescue plan, 90 percent of which was given direct to schools through a federal formula.
The $ 132 million makes up the remaining 10 percent.
Contributing to the decision was public feedback designed to bolster critical programs that weren’t on the E-12 education budget, as well as tailor support for students facing the greatest challenges due to the pandemic, Walz said.
“Minnesota’s students and families faced so many challenges during the pandemic, and helping each one of them remains a top priority, especially as we move into the next school year,” said Walz.
“This funding enables us to invest in things that couldn’t be agreed in the education budget, but which we know our students need to get back on track and stay on track in school.” , he said.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added a parental opinion, saying, “As a mom to an upcoming third grader, I know how tough this school year has been for our students and families. We owe it to them to do everything possible to support not only their academic recovery, but also their socio-emotional and mental health. “
Federal law requires Minnesota to spend most of the $ 132 million on four areas: learning recreation, post-school programs, summer enrichment, and other government activities to support students and schools. A small portion can be used for grant administration.
The payouts include:

  • In the area of ​​learning recovery, the Department of Education will allocate $ 66 million directly to public schools to help students apply evidence-based strategies. Schools are also encouraged to work with community organizations to support students.
  • For after-school programs, $ 13.2 million is being made available to Ignite Afterschool, an organization and network leader experienced in evidence-based extra-curricular programming, for the distribution of grants. Fifty percent of the funds go to charitable organizations. The other half is directed to culture-specific community organizations.
  • Another $ 13.2 million will be provided through grants for summer education, with 50 percent going to community organizations. The remaining 50 percent is dedicated to culturally specific community organizations.
  • Approximately $ 26 million will be used in public school grants for full-service community schools to expand rigorous coursework and other endeavors. The remaining $ 13.6 million for other government activities and grant administration will be used to build and strengthen systems within the Department of Education.

How is Pasadena spending its pandemic rescue cash? – Pasadena Star Information

As the dust settles on the pandemic, city leaders ponder the best way to spend a huge injection of cash: $ 52.6 million in federal rescue dollars.

The first increment, $ 26.3 million, came fresh from Washington, DC last week, part of the $ 1.9 trillion American rescue plan law stopped by congress and signed by President Joe Biden in March. The second payment, another $ 26.3 million, is due in June 2022.

But here’s the catch. The city isn’t entirely sure whether the second pile will land – at least in its full form.

“There is a growing concern across the country, from mayors and cities in every state that the second 50% payment could be reclaimed from the federal government through legislative negotiations,” said Matthew Hawkesworth, the city’s chief financial officer, at a city council meeting last week.

People wearing masks because of the coronavirus pandemic walk past Pasadena City Hall on Saturday, May 2, 2020. (File photo)

Efforts to reduce funding have already started, officials said, who expect the trials to continue. In short, in a highly polarized setting on Capitol Hill, there is concern that the city may not see this second half and they have tried this week to include everything they could.

At the same time, there was resistance to this scramble as residents and elected leaders urged the city to take a much more “global” look at where this money is going.

Federal rescue finance itself has certain baskets that it has to go to. It can only be used to:

    • Respond to the public health emergency or its adverse effects.
    • Give key workers a reward during COVID-19 restrictions.
    • Coverage of the city for services it could not afford due to pandemic-related revenue shortfalls.
    • And / or for necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

Nonetheless, it has enormous potential in a city that has suffered significant financial losses in sales and tourism revenues, and almost one $ 900 million budget for fiscal year 2021-22 – a budget that needs to be approved by next week. Both the city Rose Bowl operating company and the Pasadena Center operating company Revenues plummeted during the pandemic.

Everyone agrees that federal funds are urgently needed. But how it is allocated is more complicated.

At last week’s council meeting, with budget deadlines looming, the urgency was seen building as members stood up on a number of points – amid community rejection – to commit federal funding to certain city programs .

These included the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau’s tourism recovery plan, a $ 475,000 infusion for hiring three employees as the city’s hospitality industry recovers from the pandemic. Officials see the funding as critical to bringing the city’s ailing hospitality industry back to health.

But several members of the public opposed it, fueling their continued pressure on the city to divert funds into housing programs, the health department and youth programs and away from police tourism and capital improvements, things they say the money is not supposed to cover.

“They find money for business, they find money for retail, but when it comes to housing programs and financing offers for the homeless, they always have difficulty finding money, or they just say they don’t have the money,” said Sonja Berndt , a housing attorney, warned the city not to go too quickly on a wish list of items to be funded with the rescue funds. “There is never money or crumbs for the poor, the weak, the marginalized.”

Berndt and others called on the city council to better include the voices of the citizens in the discussion about how to deal with federal aid money. And Berndt complained that such money goes back into the city’s general fund when departments like Housing and Public Health get relatively little of the funding pie compared to the city’s police force.

The result, she said, is that violence prevention, supportive housing, public health and community programs are coming under pressure.

The city council eventually approved $ 1.075 million in federal aid to go towards public health responses, public health improvements, and funding the visitor’s office.

But the council members also seemed to get the message that the decisions should not be rushed.

“I think we should have a more global discussion in the council, where we’re not just looking at the council’s allocation, but also how the county spends its dollars, how the state spends its dollars – on rent subsidies, for example – and trying to Strengthening areas that need strengthening while giving more input to the public and the council, ”Mayor Victor Gordo said at the June 14 meeting.

His colleagues seemed to agree.

“Fifty million is a lot of money,” said Councilor Andy Wilson, calling it “a golden opportunity” to decide how to spend it.

City officials offered a laundry list of items a framework for future funding, everything from a public health fund to offsetting parking fund losses to capital improvements related to housing support and infrastructure.

In response, the council decided to organize public workshops, as the city council’s finance committee also plays a role in creating a new framework. The priorities would eventually return to the entire city council for approval.

One obvious benefit is that most federal funding does not yet need to be budgeted, even though there are deadlines in federal legislation.

“The good thing is that some of us have been pushed back,” said Berndt. “We said, ‘No, let’s have an overall strategy, not a piecemeal thing.’ We need a kind of public relations work where the public can make comments. “

No agency plans but for Parkersburg Rescue Plan cash | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

Charles Roberts, from the Parkersburg area, speaks during the public forum at the Parkersburg City Council meeting Tuesday on the funding the city will receive from the US rescue plan. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG – With more than $ 22 million in American Rescue Plan funds flowing into the city of Parkersburg this year and next, discussions are ongoing about how that money will be spent.

“I hope the Council will agree to use these funds to have the greatest community impact and the longest impact.” Mayor Tom Joyce said.

Officials are working to understand the rules for using the money from the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout plan passed by Congress in March. They’re listed in a tentative closing rule that Joyce said could still be changed and updated.

Permissible uses for the funds are:

* Assisting households, small businesses, nonprofits and industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kim van Rijn, a resident of Parkersburg, suggests using the funds from the American rescue plan that the city will receive during the public forum at the Parkersburg City Council meeting on Tuesday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

* Providing bonuses to key workers during the public health emergency.

* Paying for government services impacted by COVID-19-related revenue declines.

* Make necessary investments in water, sewage or broadband infrastructure.

Using the money in the Parkersburg Utility Board’s planned water system improvements could reduce the rate increase required to pay for the work.

“I am shocked when the city council does not provide funding to the utility board.” said Joyce, who as mayor is the chair of the PUB.

Continuing with recent improvements in rainwater is another use Joyce would like to pursue.

Infrastructure projects provide jobs and the money is then recycled when it is spent in the community, Joyce said.

“I am in favor of bringing as much money as possible to the workers and companies that can be helped.” he said.

The mayor said he felt for people who lost their jobs and were unable to work due to the pandemic, but support such as increased unemployment benefits was available for them.

“When was the last time there was a federal program that rewarded people for going to work?” he said. “I think there is an opportunity to offer something to these people.”

It will be up to the council to determine which forum will discuss the issue and how the public can weigh itself, Joyce said.

“What we are doing now is just trying to educate ourselves about what we can and cannot use the funds for.” Council Chairman Zach Stanley said. Once the final guide is published, “Then we’ll work on how we get feedback.”

Some people have already started offering ideas.

During the council meeting on Tuesday, Kim van Rijn, who lives in Parkersburg, suggested that the city hire a director for cultural development to support organizations “They urgently need help if they want to survive.” The person could help write scholarships and raise funds for facilities such as the Sumnerite Museum on Avery Street, the Oil and Gas Museum, and Parkersburg Homecoming.

While tourism is an industry that is eligible for funding, it is not clear if funding such a position would be an acceptable use of the money.

The funds cannot be used to offset lower tax rates, but Charles Roberts, who lives outside the city limits, asked during the public forum if it could be done instead “Get rid of the usage fee.” If that is not possible, the city must diligently deal with the money that ultimately comes from taxpayers.

Joyce said the city will comply with all federal regulations on the money and it can be checked through an audit. The West Virginia Auditor’s Office has put in place mechanisms and tools to help cities, he said.

Around half of the funds will not be available until 2022. Joyce warned against tying up all of the money before the full economic impact of the pandemic is known. Federal guidelines shared by the office of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va. state that the reduction in revenue can be calculated at four different times: December 31, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.

“This approach recognizes that some beneficiaries may experience the delayed impact of the pandemic on revenue.” the document says.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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Arkansas American Rescue Plan price range may imply cash for COVID-19 vaccines, broadband

The Arkansas American Rescue Plan’s Steering Committee met for the first time Wednesday to discuss how to distribute $ 1.57 billion to various programs. Asa Hutchinson said the money will be used for everything from COVID-19 vaccines to broadband internet. “It’s unique in history. It’s a unique opportunity to improve the infrastructure in our state from broadband to healthcare to cybersecurity, from IT to water projects,” Hutchinson said. In total, the federal government gave Arkansas $ 5 billion with the American Rescue Plan. About $ 1.57 billion of this has been allocated to the state government, with the remainder going to local governments and other projects. Chairman Larry Walther said the focus is the money flowing into the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID response, reducing the spread of the virus, controlling the pandemic, vaccinations, contact tracing, things like that are number one,” Walther said. Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins is part of the NWA COVID-19 Task Force. He said this money could help educate more Arcansans about the vaccine, which could help with vaccination rates. “We need all the help we can get. It wasn’t until the vaccines came out that we got around the corner. I think the money was put into vaccines. Not only vaccines, but educating the public about the safety of vaccines is from critical to continuing to resolve the problem that has persisted for over a year, “said Jenkins. Hutchinson said another important thing in Arkansas is rural broadband internet. “I’d rather see our broadband investment in a few months than a year. Let’s get it out quickly. It’s an urgent need,” he said by December 31, 2026, $ 1.57 billion must be spent . The committee will meet again in early June and provide a more detailed breakdown of how much money was spent.

The Arkansas American Rescue Plan’s Steering Committee met for the first time Wednesday to discuss how to distribute $ 1.57 billion to various programs.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said the money will be used for everything from COVID-19 vaccines to broadband internet.

“It’s unique in history. It’s a unique opportunity to improve the infrastructure in our state from broadband to healthcare to cybersecurity, from IT to water projects,” said Hutchinson.

In total, the federal government gave Arkansas $ 5 billion with the American Rescue Plan.

About $ 1.57 billion of this has been allocated to the state government, with the remainder going to local governments and other projects.

Chairman Larry Walther said the focus of the money is on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID response, reducing the spread of the virus, controlling the pandemic, vaccinations, contact tracing, things like that are number one,” Walther said.

Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins is part of the NWA COVID-19 Task Force. He said this money could help educate more Arcansans about the vaccine, which could help with vaccination rates.

“We need all the help we can get. It wasn’t until the vaccines came out that we got around the corner. I think money that goes into vaccines is not just for vaccines, but for educating the public about them.” Vaccine safety is essential to continue to solve a really long problem, “Jenkins said.

Governor Hutchinson said another important thing in Arkansas is rural broadband internet.

“I’d rather see our broadband investment in a few months than a year. Let’s get it out quickly. It’s an urgent need,” he said.

The committee said the $ 1.57 billion must be spent by December 31, 2026.

The committee will meet again in early June and explain in more detail where it intends to spend the money.

Evers adjusting spending plans after Rescue Plan cash lower than anticipated

MADISON (WKOW) – Governor Tony Evers’ only definitive answer on Wednesday to questions about how his administration will adjust to Wisconsin to receive $ 700 million less than expected under the US bailout is that it has no impact on previously announced plans for small business relief efforts.

Wisconsin learned Tuesday that it would receive $ 2.5 billion through the American Rescue Plan Act. The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated the state would receive $ 3.2 billion.

Evers, the vetoed a bill In March, this would have given Republican-controlled lawmakers a say in how the money was used. Previously, he had split the proposed spending into three buckets:

  • $ 2.5 billion in economic relief, including business grants
  • $ 200 million for broadband expansion
  • $ 500 million for ongoing pandemic response.

Given the proposed spending skeleton, the loss of $ 700 million resulted in the Evers government being reformed.

“Obviously that $ 700 million makes a difference,” Evers said. “That’s $ 700 million. We can’t help people, our small businesses, and others recover as quickly as we wanted.”

Evers later, in the same answer to a question about how the reduction would affect the state’s relief plans, indicated that helping small businesses would remain high on the priority list.

“When we think of the areas of the state that are struggling so hard, it’s small businesses, businesses on Main Street, bars, restaurants and so on,” Evers said. “We will continue to make sure they are a priority.”

Britt Cudaback, director of communications for the governor’s office, said Wednesday the disappointing news would likely lead the government to shrink its proposed spending in all three buckets, but added that it would have no impact on previously announced corporate relief plans .

These included $ 420 million for Small Business Recovery Grant, $ 50 million for Main Street Business Grant, $ 50 million for Just Recovery, and $ 50 million for the Beyond the Classroom Initiative “.

The government had also pledged $ 50 million for the tourism industry, which Cudaback said would not be affected by the reduction either.

The estimated $ 700 million loss will also cause problems for the ongoing state budget process.

UW-Madison political science professor Barry Burden said the matter had been further tarnished by clarifying that $ 2.5 billion would be split into two doses. One half comes from, the other half comes after another year.

“A second amount waiting to be received by the state next year complicates matters in my opinion,” said Burden. “Because we really don’t know exactly what the state’s budget situation will look like in 12 months.”

Is it worth vaccinating?

While Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday that the state would be holding five $ 1 million lotteries to reward vaccinated residents, Evers said he wouldn’t rule anything out if asked if he would consider using government funds for a vaccination incentive program.

“We will do everything in our power to get people to be shot in the arms,” ​​said Evers.

As for the money earmarked for ongoing pandemic response, Cudaback said those funds would cover continuation of efforts including contact tracing and clinics, regardless of the final amount.

Health Department officials said Wednesday they would enter a phase where fewer people would be vaccinated over an extended period as demand for the vaccine has hit a wall in recent weeks and about 45 percent of the state’s population is at least receiving it have a dose.

Some American Rescue Plan cash for use to rebuild CT’s workforce

Posted: Apr 22, 2021 / 12:39 PM EDT
Updated: April 22, 2021 / 12:39 p.m. EDT

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Governor Ned Lamont says the state will use some of the money from the US bailout plan to rebuild the state’s workforce.

They say they will do this by funding human resource development programs. The jobs that are in high demand for workers are healthcare, manufacturing, and information technology.

The State Office of Workforce Strategy works with state colleges and universities to prepare students for the workforce.

“We are integrating an employment skills course into all of our programs so that students have the skills and soft skills that fit the work culture,” said Eileen Peltier, Northwest’s chief regional workforce development officer.

There are currently about 140,000 people out of work in Connecticut, but the hiring is at a record high.

Editorial: Following the native cash of the American Rescue Plan

Imagine someone left you some money. It’s a fair bit of change – maybe even 60% of your annual salary. But it comes with strings. You can’t use it to pay your bills, and you can’t put it in your savings account. Your dearly late uncle wanted you to spend that money.

What do you do with it?

This is the puzzle that counties and parishes face.

The American bailout plan – the $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 recovery package – doesn’t just include $ 1,400 checks for individuals. It also includes approximately $ 350 billion for communities serving the same purpose on a larger scale. It’s about pumping something into the system.

In this case, it is not a trip to the mall or a deposit for a new car. It shouldn’t be difficult for a city or town to find a way to spend extra money. They all have a list of things they want to fund or approve that have been submitted but not approved.

The ARP formulates some parameters. Money can’t just cut taxes. It cannot sit in a pension fund. It has two goals: reimbursing the costs of the coronavirus pandemic and providing opportunities for projects that might otherwise remain on a wish list forever.

Funding estimates determine the scope. Pittsburgh, a city with an operating budget of $ 564 million, earmarks $ 355 million. Greensburg’s cash pot is $ 1.4 million. Other area projections range from $ 7,000 to $ 27 million. A total of $ 382.7 million goes to parishes in Allegheny County and $ 107.1 million to parishes in Westmoreland County.

That’s a lot of money to do things that weren’t financially feasible.

This opens up a wide range of possibilities. Part of this could be related to coronavirus. Grants to nonprofits that have been hampered by pandemic donation issues. Lending to businesses who know that if they can hold out until the world goes back to normal, they can get back on their feet.

Other options could coincide with the infrastructure improvements that the Biden administration has planned for a next destination. Water projects. Sewer pipes. Broadband access in underserved areas.

In this case, the main problem is not getting the money, which is expected to be released in one payout within two months and within a year. Making wise decisions about the best use of windfall is.

The Brookings Institution recommends creating a game plan based on questions such as how quickly help can be offered. Is it inclusive of who is being helped, does it work long-term, and does it work well with ongoing plans? To answer these questions, the think tank recommends the appointment of a council of public and private votes.

The government should never spend thoughtlessly. Spending people’s money should be measured and considered. In this case, it must be remembered that those thrown-off dollars are still taxpayers’ money.

But with the absolute must-spend demand, local governments rarely have the opportunity to bring people together and ask what they would do with an unexpected legacy.