On Tuesday, June 29, the Detroit City Council approved a plan to appropriate $826 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Detroit will receive the fifth-largest amount of any city in America. The total 1.9 trillion federal stimulus bill was signed into law in March 2021 to help alleviate the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The payments will be broken up into two payments of 413 million distributed this June 2021, with the second equal disbursement in May 2022. On June 7th, the City Council gathered to ask community members how they feel the money should be spent.
Mayor Mike Duggan thanked Council President Brenda Jones and council member Janee Ayers for “moving forward on this once in a lifetime opportunity for our residents.”
“We can begin putting those dollars to use to improve the lives of Detroiters and our neighborhoods,” Duggan said in a statement.
“Jay Rising, Tanya Stoudemire, Steve Watson and the city’s finance department deserve enormous credit for their professionalism during this process. I know they will provide outstanding stewardship of these funds,” he added in the statement.
“President Biden and our congressional delegation gave us this extraordinary opportunity to invest in the city. Since I presented the original framework plan in May, we held 63 community meetings with more than 3,300 residents participating. Our citizens’ input and ideas resulted in the much more complete plan approved by Council today,” he also said. “Detroit’s future is much brighter today because of that engagement.”
City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield (who represents District 5) voted no on the ARPA proposed funding and said in a statement she felt the process was being rushed.
“While I support putting the American Rescue Plan Act funding to work for Detroiters as soon as possible, I cannot be rushed into misappropriating the dollars to the point that we miss the mark in terms of the intent to have them be transformative,” Sheffield said.
Sheffield added that a poll of District 5 residents (42.5 percent support the funding proposal) showed that they wanted to “slow down the process” to engage and educate residents and “devise a plan that is more representative of the community’s priorities.”
“Ultimately, there is no reason to rush this process,” she said.
Jones said in her own statement that the road to Tuesday’s vote began on April 29, 2021.
That was when the Detroit City Council and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer began discussions on this financial opportunity in a collaborative working group.
“Each City Council office had an opportunity to provide input in the decision regarding how the dollars would be allocated,” she said in the statement. “This process was one of the most inclusive and collaborative activities that I have seen between the Mayor’s Administration, City Council and Detroit residents since the implementation of the community inclusion budget survey and outreach meetings establishing a city-wide priority to keep residents informed and engaged on how their tax and grants dollars are spent.”
Jones said that there were over 60 community meetings, numerous discussions, and a survey.
“I also conducted digital and social media outreach since May and held two community outreach meetings,” Jones said in the story. “We attempted to engage diverse audiences of Detroiters with a variety of perspectives. When deciding how to spend the dollars, there were federal restrictions on how the dollars could be spent. The funds could not be spent to make pension contributions nor cash distributions to Detroiters.”
Jones added the original proposal submitted by the mayor consisted of six appropriations within- the four authorized uses for ARPA funds:
● Responding to public health needs and economic damage from the pandemic
● Providing premium pay (I.e. hazard pay) to essential workers
● Replacing lost revenue
● Investing in necessary broadband and water infrastructure
“I look forward to continued collaboration as we all work to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jones added.