US Federal bailout fund under discussion in region | Local News

TRAVERSE CITY – An influx of $ 18.2 million in US bailout funds is coming to Grand Traverse County and ideas are needed on how best to spend the money.


A study session is tentatively set for October 27 for the county commission to discuss the process of spending the funds. This plan will include creating a mechanism for county residents, agencies, organizations and more to submit suggestions on what is needed, said county administrator Nate Alger.

“I am convinced that the community must be engaged in this process,” said Algiers. “We absolutely have to involve the community in these discussions. “

Algiers said the county has already received requests for the money to be spent on sewer and water infrastructure and affordable housing.

Other counties in northern Michigan and the state have already issued a call for ideas, with Leelanau County receiving 148 submissions by the mid-August deadline. Leelanau County receives ARP funds totaling $ 4.2 million.

But Algiers said Grand Traverse County wanted to take it a bit slower and was waiting for official guidance on how the money can be spent. They can also hire a consultant to guide the county through the process, which can be time consuming, he said.

“There’s a lot of money to come with this, so we just want to do it right,” Algiers said.

The US $ 1.9 trillion bailout law was enacted in March by President Joe Biden. Of this, $ 130 billion goes to local governments, about $ 65 billion is earmarked for counties, with the remainder going to cities and townships based on population.

Municipalities received about half of the funds in May. They have until December 2024 to allocate the funds and until December 2026 to spend them.

According to the US Treasury Department’s Interim Final Rule, state and local fiscal stimulus funds for the coronavirus, as they’re called, can be used in five ways: for public health spending; tackle the negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic, including on workers, households, industries and the public sector; replace lost public sector revenue; pay a premium to essential workers who have borne the greatest health risks; and water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

“I hope we have the final rules by the end of this year,” said deputy administrator Chris Forsyth, who knows the ins and outs of ARPA.

Another delay has been the two infrastructure packages currently in Congress, Algiers said. A $ 1.2 trillion plan was passed in a bipartisan vote by the US Senate in August and is now in the House. As passed, it includes $ 65 billion for broadband expansion in rural areas and low-income communities, and an additional $ 55 billion for water infrastructure.

A separate 10-year, $ 3.5 trillion budget reconciliation program by Democrats would expand education, health care and child care and tackle climate change. He also has money for infrastructure.

“So why would we make broadband Internet if we think the federal government is going to take care of it?” Asked Algiers.

Grand Traverse County has identified around $ 2 million in lost revenue and Algiers said part of the ARP funds could be used for this.



Earlier this year, Leelanau County bought advertisements and sent out press releases encouraging anyone to give their opinion on how their ARP funds should be spent. A total of 125 emails with suggestions were received, along with 23 proposals for things like softball and baseball fields, water and sewer upgrades and a communications tower, the county administrator said. Chet Janik.

“This is money that is supposed to be spent on the community and we thought it was important to get feedback from the community,” Janik said. “A lot of people have adopted us.”

Other suggestions included expanding mental health services, although the vast majority of requests were for internet and broadband expansion in the county, he said.

The county commission will begin considering all suggestions and proposals at a Committee of the Whole meeting set for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, October 19 at the Government Center. Janik said this is the first discussion the commissioners will have on how to spend ARP funds and they will begin the process of deciding which requests will go to the board for presentation, Janik said.

All emails and proposals received by the county will go live on Tuesday, he said.

Traverse City will receive around $ 1.65 million, slightly more than previously announced, and received its first payment about a week ago, said Marty Colburn, city manager.

The city commission has had some superficial discussions about ARP funds, but the topic is on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, Colburn said.

The plan is to use the funds for infrastructure – water, sewage and fiber optic cable, but mostly on a sewer line project that is underway, he said.

“The bad news is that public infrastructure is very expensive,” Colburn said. “The good news is it’s money we didn’t have.

Benzie County receives $ 3.45 million in ARP funds and earlier this year called for ideas on how to spend it, County Board Chairman Bob Roelofs said. This has now been put on hold until the rules are finalized, he said.

County Antrim received $ 4.5 million in ARP funds and Kalkaska $ 3.5 million.

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