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City Council Debates Additional Spending Programs

The City Council debated additional American Rescue Plan Act spending programs during Monday’s City Council work session. The finance committee presented four resolutions for full council discussion due to spending concerns. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

The topic of limited American Rescue Plan Act funding and how to use the remaining funds dominated Monday’s City Council meeting.

Council members, city officials and community members presented different perspectives regarding the remaining ARPA funds.

“I genuinely have a lot of concerns with all of the resolutions in front of us today, leaving only $5 million left with all the things out there that people are still requesting to be done,” Councilwoman Kim Ecklund, R-At Large “To some, $5 million seems like a lot, but the way we’ve gone through money, $5 million is not a lot.”

The finance committee asked the full council to consider the proposal that would designate $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act Healthy Communities and Neighborhoods funding to aid the Land Bank’s Post-Pandemic Housing Initiative.

Crystal Surdyk, director of development, explained a significant portion of the Land Bank’s funding would be allocated to demolition, something she said the city does not currently have enough funding for.

Ecklund suggested the City Council should consider funding demolition efforts internally rather than contracting with the Land Bank.

Councilman Andrew Faulkner, R-Ward VI, also questioned the city’s proposal to provide $1 million to the Land Bank, given that roughly $200,000 would go toward administrative expenses.

While some council members expressed concerns about allocating ARPA funding to the Land Bank, others expressed support for the initiative.

“I just know that through the meetings we’ve had, that was a high priority,” City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II, said. “We all know it’s a priority, and it fits right in when you talk about neighborhood issues and health and safety.”

Surdyk said she would report the City Council’s questions to the Land Bank’s executive director and would have the director present additional information to the council at the next work session.

The City Council also considered the designation of $750,000 in ARPA funding for a Business Expansion and Building Acquisition program, which would allow qualifying businesses to each apply for up to $200,000 in funding for the expansion of local businesses. Surdyk said the program was created as a result of some local businesses not qualifying for other funding programs.

Ecklund questioned whether the city should provide additional funding for businesses that did not meet the guidelines for previous programs, especially with the remaining ARPA funding decreasing rapidly.

The finance committee also raised questions regarding the city administration’s $750,000 proposal for the 19A Home Ownership program and the $1.5 million proposal for a Non-Profit Assistance Program with plans to revisit both proposals at the next work session.

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