Here’s something novel in Bridgeport: government asking you how to spend money instead of taking it. Easy to do when its federal dough.
From Mayor Joe Ganim:
The City of Bridgeport has been awarded $110 million dollars in federal funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act to be expended through 2024. Last evening, the City Council voted to accept and expend American Rescue Act funds according to the eligible uses outlined within the legislation.
The funds are intended to address the needs and priorities of the community in this historic opportunity to repair the setbacks and challenges caused by COVID-19. The City of Bridgeport is seeking input through an online survey from residents, business owners, and organizations until June 25, 2021. Individuals are asked to propose ideas and make suggestions as to how the City should spend the American Rescue Plan funds. To complete the survey, visit bridgeportct.gov/arp or click here.
In addition, City Council will host a public hearing on Tuesday, June 15 at 6:00pm so that residents and business owners can suggest appropriate uses under these guidelines that will best benefit the City.
The American Rescue Plan Act lays out four general areas where the funds can be spent:
— To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality
— To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers
— For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID–19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency
— To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
The Budget and Appropriations Committee hosted two Special Meetings May 25 and June 3 to learn more about the Act and its appropriate and possible uses. Many Council members participated and offered amendments to item 76-20, which the Committee then approved June 3.
“We want to get these monies into the hands of the people and agencies who have been helping our community recover as soon as possible,” said Budget co-chair Ernie Newton. “And, we want to make sure that we can allocate the funding with as little bureaucracy as possible.”
Added Budget co-chair Scott Burns, “We want to make sure we leverage these funds to get the most and longest impact out of these funds. But we also want to make sure the public knows where these dollars are going and what impact they are delivering.”
“This is an opportunity to leverage more resources and assistance for our city’s homeless population,” said Budget committee member Jeanette Herron.
Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Congressman Jim Himes advocated strongly to make sure Bridgeport and Connecticut get their fair share of the ARP funds. “I’d like to thank our Congressional leaders for making sure that Bridgeport gets this money, since Covid-19 hit our community as hard as any in the nation,” said Council President Aidee Nieves. “It will give us a chance to bounce back.”
Mayor Ganim stated, “I appreciate the time and attention the council gave to reviewing the eligible uses of the American Rescue Plan. I look forward working with the council to fund current programs and new initiatives in an effort to re-energize our local economy and provide meaningful programs for our residents.”