SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) — Last year, the federal government granted the city of Saginaw $52 million in COVID relief through the American Rescue Plan. Since then, the city council has discussed and debated what they want to do with that money.
Ultimately, the city’s decided to use this first wave for mundane, but critical, budget support.
During Monday night’s meeting, the Saginaw City Council approved the advisory board’s suggestion to set aside their ARPA money in a separate fund.
The council established the board in January to develop a plan for the money which followed the federal government’s guidelines.
The city will use the ARPA fund to fill in for their pandemic-related revenue drop.
“We lost a lot of money because people weren’t working. And not only that: we lost a lot of our tax base because people weren’t working here,” Mayor Pro-Tempore Michael Balls explained.
Put simply, the funds will help keep the city budget running as if it were a pre-pandemic year without having to make service or employment cuts.
Councilwoman Annie Boensch told ABC12 that this is a welcome decision as the city plans for 2023 and the years ahead.
“So you’ll see a direct correlation of ‘we lost this revenue, we cut this project. We gained the ARPA funds, which allowed us to complete the project that way,'” she said.
Thanks to these funds, road repairs will continue, streets will stay plowed, and city employees will stay in a job.
As for that second “wave,” Boensch said the city doesn’t have any plans just yet.
However, she said they’ve received so many ideas that they’re considering a formal submission process.