Mayor outlines priorities for the city’s 2nd round of American Rescue Plan spending
Mayor Greg Fischer today was joined by Metro Council Budget Chair Bill Hollander and Vice Chair Kevin Kramer to outline proposed priorities for spending the remaining share of federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding.
The plan for that nearly $340 million focuses on four priority areas – Homelessness and Affordable Housing, Workforce Development and Small Business, Healthy Louisville/Healthy Neighborhoods and Public Safety.
The Mayor noted that data and public input “have been essential drivers of our ARP priorities” – from the city’s Build Back Better Together process, to the over 1,000 responses to online surveys and the comments the public shared in three hearings sponsored by Council. And the priorities also reflect discussions with the Council budget leaders, he said, “and our agreement that while our city has many needs, these areas reflect the most effective, inclusive, and equitable way to allocate our ARP funds set forth by the federal government.”
In total, Metro Government has been allocated $388 million in ARP Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, approved by Congress to meet the most urgent needs of communities across the country as they rebuild from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In remarks today, the Mayor noted that public input overwhelmingly fell into the four focus areas that provide the framework for these ARP priorities:
First, Homelessness and Affordable Housing. “These are challenges faced by cities across the nation, and addressing them is a priority for us,” the Mayor said. “We recommend using a good amount of the ARP funding to significantly reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness. That includes transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and other forms of affordable housing, particularly directed at Louisville’s lowest-income residents and those suffering from mental health and substance use disorder, who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
Second, Workforce Development and Small Business Support. “Our city is rebounding nicely from the pandemic recession, and we know that for us to competitively reposition for a digital economy and the job openings in our community, we must further invest in our workforce,” the Mayor said. “And, to truly realize our full potential as a city, we must create an economic ecosystem that builds, supports and encourages Black and Brown businesses and business owners, workers and communities. Broadband and small business support are also essential factors in this strategy.”
Third, Healthy Louisville/Healthy Neighborhoods. “We want to not just survive this pandemic, we want to learn from it. In addition to preventing further spread of COVID and mitigating its impact, we want to seize this opportunity to more quickly realize our goal of becoming a healthier city,” the Mayor said. “That means improving access to healthcare and childcare, including mental health/substance abuse/suicide prevention, and promoting and supporting healthier living environments in communities most critically impacted by the virus.”
Fourth, Public Safety. “This priority area will build on the work we are already doing to reduce violence and increase safety in every neighborhood,” the Mayor said. “It will include recommended investments in violence prevention and intervention and new policing technology and deflection and diversion programs, because as we’ve said, some situations should involve a social service response, rather than solely law enforcement, particularly when dealing with people struggling with homelessness, mental health challenges or substance use.”
Noting that, “Many of your city government employees have risen to the occasion of serving our city with great distinction during the depths of the pandemic,” the Mayor added that in keeping with U.S. Treasury guidelines, “we’re also recommending that some of the ARP funding goes to provide premium pay to city government workers needed to maintain critical operations, including in public health, safety and sanitation, during the COVID-19 health emergency.” The Mayor is also recommending that some of the ARP funds be held for additional COVID mitigation and prevention, if necessary.
The next step is for Metro Council to meet, review and approve the priority areas. After that, the Mayor’s office and council budget leaders will work with community partners on various proposals through an open public Request for Proposals process, which will result in the development of specific appropriations within each of the focus areas. Then, specific projects will be submitted to the full Council approval.
“As the Council resolution to be filed today says, the expectation is that we will propose, and Metro Council will approve, projects in each of the focus areas that promote equity and make a sustainable, significant community impact, rather than smaller projects that, while valuable, don’t have the potential to make lasting change in the community,” the Mayor said.
Councilman Hollander noted, “We have serious needs in Louisville, many of which have become more pronounced in the pandemic. The local fiscal recovery funds give us a remarkable opportunity to build back better and make lasting change. It’s been very heartening to see the public speak out about community needs and this resolution is responsive to many of the comments we received in surveys and public hearings. The establishment of priority areas will allow us to begin formally seeking out and evaluating projects, which is the next step in putting these dollars to work.”
Councilman Kramer said, “We are looking forward to establishing a set of priorities for spending so that we can begin considering specific projects and programs. Introduction of this Resolution will open discussion at the Council and will offer the administration a clear path forward in allocating these transformative funds.”
And Council President David James said, “This is the next step in moving forward with deciding how to allocate the ARP fund in Louisville Metro. I really want to thank all of the citizens who participated and provided such great input.”