American Rescue Plan Act funds could bring major improvements to the city of Huntsville.
How to spend this money was discussed at Thursday’s city council meeting.
Huntsville receives $ 34.4 million from the federal government. This money is intended to help the city recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. On Thursday, citizens finally learned how the city plans to distribute these funds.
“The funds were designed to help local governments counter the negative effects of the pandemic on the community,” says Penny Smith, City of Huntsville’s director of finance.
Smith has reviewed the guidelines on how the city can use federal stimulus money since its first announcement in March.
It must decide “how best to use this one-time federal funding for the benefit of the community as a whole”.
Smith came up with five categories to better showcase the city. Workforce development, culture and tourism, parks and recreation projects, stormwater management and fire trucks.
“It allows us to keep many promises and projects that have been put on hold or delayed due to the pandemic,” Smith said.
However, some citizens would prefer to see benefits for essential workers.
“Provide additional compensation from federal ARPA funds to the city’s bus and paratransit drivers,” said Jerry Cox, a Huntsville resident.
A few board members agree with Cox.
“It seems to be something that is more directly related to ARPA, COVID compared to fire trucks,” said board member Bill Kling.
But there is a problem.
“Every worker we can make a case for is essential,” says Jennie Robinson, board member.
She says that would open a box of worms as to who would really qualify for federal stimulus money.
So for now, explains Smith, “the primary focus of the Local Funding Act is on the citizens and the city as a whole. “
The city is due to submit a breakdown of how it plans to use the funds to the federal government by November 30.