The City of Saginaw has learned more on how it can use the incoming $52 million dollars from the America Rescue Plan Act.
Speakers from Plante Moran accounting & consulting shared with City Council that responsibility falls on the city for allocating funds to ‘Municipality-run’ issues.
Brian Camiller, Certified Public Accountant with Plante Moran, says those categories specifically include:
-Supporting public health expenditures (like installing sanitary H-VAC systems in city facilities)
-Addressing economic harm to public sector-run business industries (more commonly seen in municipalities on native land)
-Providing premium pay for essential City employees
-Addressing lost City revenue, but only that approved as ‘eligible government services’
-and investing in water sewer & broadband infrastructure.
Plante Moran Senior Manager, Amanda Cronk, also shared municipal-use cases that the city cannot designate the funds for:
-Cannot make additional contributions to the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan
-Cannot pay any existing debt service
-Cannot reduce taxes
-Cannot use as a match for other federal programs
-and it cannot be banked for use after the 2024 allocation deadline or the 2026 usage deadline
With that in mind; City Manager Tim Morales reminded everyone at this week’s council gathering- just because another city allocates funds for something, doesn’t mean Saginaw should jump to spend its money the same way without a bit of research.
Mayor Brenda Moore says Council has been holding ARPA Open house events to inform the public and and receiving ideas for allocation, but those not currently falling under municipal-use could increase potential financial issues if acted on.
Camiller warned the city should be careful how it designates funds- as it could be on the hook to pay back any amount of the $52 million spent inappropriately.
Despite the warning, some Council members suggested using funds for ‘hero pay’ for local nursing home employees or floundering businesses who may have been snubbed by other COVID-19 relief fund outlets.
To that- Camiller rhetorically asked: Does the city own or run any nursing homes or affected businesses? No.