Mayor proposes first round of American Rescue Plan spending
Mayor Greg Fischer today outlined his proposal for spending $38.9 million of the $388 million the city is receiving from the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP), with the initial spending focused on the immediate and urgent challenges of 1) COVID-19 related health needs, 2) the housing, food, and utility instability experienced by vulnerable residents and 3) economic recovery, with a focus on the city’s downtown economic core.
“These are initiatives that tackle immediate challenges, providing funds for agencies that can very quickly deploy the money and have an immediate impact,” Mayor Fischer said. “Because while our city and nation are reopening – more people vaccinated and more of us enjoying restaurants, concerts and shops – there are still far too many who continue to suffer the health and economic impacts of COVID.”
Mayor Fischer’s proposal, included in an ordinance sponsored today by Metro Council President David James, Budget Chairman Bill Hollander and Vice Chair Kevin Kramer, proposes the following:
COVID-19 Health Needs
COVID-19 response and vaccination activities $10,000,000
Childcare emergency and safety supplies $1,500,000
Suicide prevention $400,000
Residential services for substance abuse and addiction $1,200,000
Vulnerable Resident Stabilization Needs
Court eviction diversion program $10,000,000
Utility assistance program $5,000,000
Security deposit and rental assistance $1,000,000
Temporary support for emergency food distribution $250,000
Louisville Tourism marketing funds $5,682,500
Downtown events and activation coordination $500,000
Enhanced ambassador and security program
for downtown and Waterfront Park $3,450,000
The Mayor stressed today that this initial round of funding is focused on urgent needs that the city can act on quickly. “Many groups and individuals have submitted other ideas, and Metro Council members have some of their own, too,” he said, “and those all will remain under consideration as we turn our focus to addressing some of our longer-term needs.”
Going forward, the Mayor has said the city’s plans for the remaining American Rescue Plan funds will lean on the work of its Build Back Better, Together (B3T) initiative, created in 2020 as the city’s framework for creating an equitable recovery from the pandemic; as well as the Mayor’s plan for Advancing Racial Equity; A Path Forward, presented by community leaders; and from Metro Council.
He cautioned that while the $388 million in ARP funding is a great deal of money, it is not nearly enough to solve all the city’s challenges. For example, Metro has over $2 billion in deferred maintenance costs alone. “Still,” he said, “it is a really good start,” and the city will, later this summer, convene leaders among business, non-profit, foundation, faith and other partners “to further ensure our public and private priorities and resources are aligned and leveraged for maximum benefit.”
Mayor Fischer said he also will collaborate closely with Council and seek ideas from the public. Today he launched an online forum, at louisvilleky.gov/accelerator, for residents to provide their ideas for how the remaining ARP funds should be used. “These are your taxpayer dollars, and in less than five minutes you can share how you think they should be spent,” the Mayor said.
In addition to the ARP announcement, the Mayor shared today that the city is adjusting its revenue forecasts for FY21 and the upcoming FY22, for a total increase of $17.5 million. That total reflects a 1.8 percent increase in FY21 revenues, or about $11.5 million, over the April budget forecast, and a forecast of an additional $6 million in revenue in FY22.
The Mayor is proposing carrying over the $11.5 million to FY22, along with the $6 million, and using it to:
Stabilize Public Safety by funding wages and staffing relating to LMPD, Corrections, EMS, Fire and Metro Animal Services;
Fund Professional Services related to the city’s work with the DOJ investigation;
Fund $5 million in public works projects that have state/federal matches, including River Road widening;
And to cover the half-year shortfall in Corrections receipts for loss of inmate telephone fees.
In addition, the Mayor said he is recommending that $15 million, recouped from FY21 general fund expenditures that were ARP eligible, be directed to previously recommended capital projects that would have been funded with debt, which will reduce the city’s borrowing in FY22.
“Clearly, we have challenges as a city,” the Mayor said, “but with the ARP federal funds and a better city budget outlook, we have the resources to address some of those challenges. We have the opportunity, as I said before, to take ideas we once reserved for some day and turn them into reality now."