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How should Greensboro spend $59 million in relief funding? It's harder than it seems.
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How should Greensboro spend $59 million in relief funding? It's harder than it seems.

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GREENSBORO — It’s hard work spending $59.4 million, but the City Council is gearing up for the task.

That’s how much the American Rescue Plan is granting the city — 50% this past May, 50% next May — for a wide range of COVID-19 relief projects.

On Thursday, city officials laid out the task ahead for council members who mostly acted as pupils during their work session.

For example, council can’t use the money for an undesignated “rainy day fund,” to shore up contributions to a pension plan or as money to settle a lawsuit.

Assistant City Manager Larry Davis and city staff attempted to shape the council’s options based on priorities it has already set for goals at recent retreats.

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Beyond that, though, the money can be used on a whole range of other needs.

“They give us very little language and a lot of latitude,” Davis said of guidelines from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which is allocating the money from President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion program.

Davis said roughly half of the money could be used to make up any shortfalls the city has incurred in revenues during the pandemic.

The other half, he said, could be used in categories outlined by the Treasury Department, such as public health, economic impacts, infrastructure and pay for workers like police officers and waste collectors who provided essential services during the pandemic.

Davis suggested much of the spending could be done in areas where incomes are low and the need is great. Such areas include large sections of southeast, east and northeast Greensboro.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan and other council members were clear that they want as much public involvement as possible in choosing how to spend the money before voting on a plan.

She suggested that Davis provide more information to council in the coming weeks and the group would schedule a public hearing in September.

Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.


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