By Tom Travis
A check for $46 million was deposited into the City of Flint’s bank account last Wednesday, according to the city’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Shelbi Frayer. It is the first payment from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan stimulus money. Recently the U.S. Treasury updated the amount Flint would receive from $99 million to $94 million.
Frayer said in a follow-up email that she expects another check for $48 million in two years, before 2024. East Village Magazine reported in April on the announcement of the stimulus money coming to Flint.
Now the question is how to best use the federal stimulus bonanza.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley is inviting Flint residents to chime in with their thoughts, suggestions and opinions. The U.S. Treasury has yet to release a “final” set of rules and guidelines on how the stimulus money for municipalities. However, they have released preliminary rules and guidelines.
The survey asks residents to rank in importance five areas for the stimulus money:
— Blight elimination
— Infrastructure, i.e., water, roads
— Neighborhood development (home repairs, renovations, rehabilitation),
— Job creation and business development, and
— Public safety.
According to the city’s website:
“Mayor Sheldon Neeley is asking residents to provide input on how the City of Flint should prioritize funding received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The City of Flint is expected to receive about $99 million as part of the $1.9 trillion package that also provides direct assistance to fund COVID-19 vaccinations and testing as well as mortgage assistance, renters assistance, and stimulus checks.
“This is short-term funding that must be spent by 2024 and additional details still are emerging on how the dollars can be spent.
“Based on input from residents over the last year and a half, Mayor Neeley has outlined five potential priority areas. All residents are invited to take this opportunity to both rank these priorities and share additional areas to consider for potential funding.
“Additional comments are welcome at email@example.com.’
City Council already weighing in on spending proposals
The City Council has had heated debates in recent weeks concerning how the stimulus money should be spent. In a special Finance Committee meeting Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward) suggested the stimulus money should be included in the city’s budget.
The city’s Chief Legal Counsel, Angela Wheeler, said that placing the stimulus money in the budget would be “illegal” because the budget and stimulus money are from two different sources.
The city council is in the throes of working on a biennial budget for FY2022 and FY2023. The council has until the first Monday in June 2021 to approve the budget. Until then the council will work on amendments and changes to the budget.
Other ways residents can share their thoughts and ideas on how to spend the ARP $99 million
Residents can weigh in with their thoughts in many ways.
- Vote in this poll: surveymonkey.com/r/
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail comments to: City of Flint Budget Input, 1101 S. Saginaw St. Room 203, Flint, Michigan 48502
- Write comments and drop them off at Flint City Hall in the red drop box outside
- Call (810) 237-2000. All callers will be asked to leave a message with their comments, which will be transcribed and included in reports with other submitted comments.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at email@example.com.