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How Should City Spend Latest COVID Relief Money?

Staff report

The city is set to receive $202 million in the latest round of pandemic-related stimulus money, and since the dollars essentially come from taxpayers, Mayor Lovely Warren is asking local ones how it should be spent.

A session is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 3 on Zoom. The link will be posted at CityofRochester.Gov/ARPA.

“These funds represent a historic opportunity to shape Rochester’s recovery in a manner that delivers the equity our citizens deserve,” Warren said of money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. “That is why we need the input of our residents to help us maximize the benefit of these funds and turn opportunity into reality. …”

Residents can provide input through a survey form posted at https://www.cityofrochester.gov/ARPA/. A telephone town hall meeting is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. June 17.

To learn more about ARPA and track the City’s spending decisions and future public events related to the funding, go to CityofRochester.Gov/ARPA.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) includes $65 billion for cities, towns and villages. Rochester’s allocation will be disbursed over two years, and the city’s first $101 million payment arrived in the middle of May.

The money comes with strings. It has to be invested in programs and services that fall within the categories of:

  • public health services to stop the spread of COVID-19;
  • services for hardest hi households and individuals hardest;
  • services for hardest hit businesses;
  • replacement of lost public sector revenue used for general government operations;
  • investments in water and sewer infrastructure;
  • investments in broadband infrastructure; and
  • premium pay for essential workers.

The money will have to be spent within a specified period, likely a few years.

Once the city has information from the listening sessions and the survey, it will submit a plan and there may be additional public forums at that time.