Allegheny County Council Committee Takes Next Step Towards Releasing Federal COVID Relief Funds
The Allegheny County Council Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday evening discussed how to spend some of the $ 380 million in funding for the county’s US bailout. Six of the seven committee members voted to send the bill to the full council with an affirmative recommendation, while one committee member opposed it.
The entire council must approve the county spending proposal before the County Executive Rich Fitzgerald administration can disburse the money.
Federal funding is intended to help alleviate some of the financial pressures created by the pandemic. The county’s proposed plan would allocate more than $ 99 million in federal funds to public health and infrastructure, as well as workers and businesses affected by the pandemic. It can also be used to “help recover lost income from the pandemic”.
The remaining funds would be spent over the next two years.
Allegheny County Director William McKain said the money will help the county replenish some of the revenue lost during the pandemic. County tax revenues, including those on hotel rooms and rental vehicles, among others, have declined significantly during the pandemic.
“Even though, with board leadership and executive power, our finances are strong and positive, we really want to get our fill,” McKain said.
According to McKain, the $ 99.75 million that could be spent this year would include $ 15 million to deal with the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, such as lost income.
It would also include $ 37.75 million for public health improvements, such as ventilation upgrades and COVID-aware buildings in some county offices, Kane community living centers and day care facilities. children and preschool. A portion of these funds would be used to expand the county’s mental health services. Another part would provide radio communication infrastructure for all of the county’s public safety departments, including the police, fire department and EMS.
$ 47 million would go to government services. McKain said the money would allow the county to create site development grants to promote economic development and activity. The county’s Children’s Fund, which offers early learning and after-school time programs, would also get funding under the spending plan.
Full details on how the money would be spent were not available, but McKain said the county would create a public dashboard, similar to the one created for the financing of the CARES law, to track expenses.
Some members of the community criticized the lack of input from the public on how the funds would be spent, a point raised by Bethany Hallam, a member of the Democratic council.
McKain said that while his office did not receive direct public comment, they spoke with council members and other office holders and county officials who heard from voters.
“And then we looked at what we thought were the most urgent, you know, short term items that would resonate until they hit the most people,” he said.
The committee also voted to recommend that two proposals for additional funding of $ 44 million for emergency rent assistance be sent to council for a vote. McKain said the council has already accepted $ 85.7 million in rental and utility assistance funds to date.
The full council will vote on the spending plan at a later date.