Aug 30, 2022
Council members and representatives from the administration help a marathon discussion on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) spending during a more than six-hour Council caucus yesterday. Council had previously laid out their spending plans, but with the city now having the full award, members expanded on their recommended allocations.
Council had previously allocated about $200 million last year from the nearly $512 million the city received for revenue recovery, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, toward establishing a city-wide broadband network and for safety equipment including new ambulances, more safety cameras and other items, including $17 million towards make Cleveland homes lead safe. The nearly $512 million Cleveland received is the eighth highest ARPA amount of any municipality in the country.
“The federal government deemed we had an emergency,” said Council President Blaine A. Griffin. “While we want to be thoughtful in how we allocate this funding and we wanted to wait for the new administration, we now must move forward and make decisions to help residents and businesses. We believe we can introduce and pass legislation for these allocations in September.”
Spending recommendations council had previously agreed upon were included in the discussion as well as administration priorities. The discussion centered on allocating more than $102 million in the ARPA funding. That leaves more than $200 million in ARPA funding still to be decided. US Treasury rules require all ARPA funding to be obligated (contracted) by December 31, 2024 and all funds must be expended (spent) December 31, 2026.
For council, home repair programs and construction gap financing were high on the list of projects to be funded, as well as programs that help adult and child victims of domestic violence, rape and other traumas. Council also included funding for Right to Counsel that gives families facing eviction free legal help, a program that council leadership established several years ago.
The discussion also included additional safety equipment, including expanded Shot Spotter technology and dash cameras for all police cars.
“I’ve been advocating for these dash cams for years,” said Councilman Mike Polensek, chair of the Safety Committee. Councilman Polensek noted that having dash cams in all patrol cars are part of the DOJ Consent Decree the department is under.
Adding funding to Opportunity Cle Fund, a $50 million fund that supports development project in low-income Cleveland neighborhoods, was also something council advocated for.
While much was agreed upon, legislation must be written and council members will discuss these allocations in the committee process, and they could be changed. And there will be additional meeting concerning allocating the rest of the ARPA funding.