City of Saginaw Spends $5 Million on Behavioral Health, Reevaluates Funding Process

During a single-topic session Monday evening, the city council allocated $5 million to the development of a new behavioral health clinic, following the recommendation of their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) advisory committee and matching an allocation made by the county. It was determined that instead of taking the entire sum from the city’s general ARPA fund, which was the subject of community input, half of the investment would come from the funds taken as lost revenue by the city.

Afterward, after another proposed allocation failed, the conversation turned to how the council would determine priority in handing out remaining funds. Ultimately, the council voted 5-3 in favor of sending the remaining Public Health proposals to city staff and consulting firm Guidehouse for assessment and scoring.

“Whenever you’re dealing with grant money, there’s a matrix that people, community members can follow and say, ‘This is how we’re scoring. This is what we’re looking at. And if it is no, if it is yes, this is the criteria that we’re using,” said Council Member George Copeland, who supported further analysis. “Everyone has their own interpretation of ARPA as well. Because we all have our own interpretation, having a clear guideline would help us.”

One of the three dissenting votes, Council member Michael Flores said, “The proposals that had been given originally had their budget included. Those were sussed out. The columns that we have are pretty particular in terms of ‘Is this an existing program? How many people do you have funding? How much money is it going to cost?’ So this is just a misuse of Guidehouse funding in my opinion.”