Flint, MI– Over $18 million of the City of Flint’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding was set aside for community grants in the city’s allocation plan a month ago. However, the city has yet to provide its process for handing those dollars over to the local organizations it promised them to.

Flint City Council adopted an ARPA Allocation Plan during its meeting on Oct. 24, 2022. The plan detailed how the city will spend approximately $60.3 million, roughly a third of which was in the form of “community grants” for which local organizations could apply.

The community grants were spread across potential projects in neighborhood improvement, economic development, public safety and public health categories and totaled $18,160,000 in funding.

At the Oct. 24 meeting, Councilwoman Judy Priestley, who helped draft the approved ARPA allocation plan, explained the expected process for granting the grant funding to local organizations.

“There will be a committee that will be chosen semi-blindly from residents across the city, hopefully one per ward, and they will be reviewing all of these [organization’s] applications,” Priestley said. “Residents from the City of Flint who apply to be on this committee will have the chance to review those applications and be making recommendations to Council as to what to fund and what to deny.”

City of Flint Chief Resiliency Officer Lottie Ferguson clarified that the committee’s authority would be limited to making recommendations to City Council; they would not make the final decision on which applications to approve or deny directly.

In response to questions from Councilman Eric Mays about who would appoint the committee, Ferguson said that city administration would be partnering with philanthropic organizations for input.

“We are working with our philanthropic partners who grant dollars to the community on a regular basis and so, they are assisting with the process of the selection committee and identifying those who will be available to serve on that committee,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson later told Flint Beat that the city is working with Community Foundation of Greater Flint and Ruth Mott Foundation to develop the grant application, which City of Flint Chief Finance Officer Robert Widigan had also said in September.

In a Nov. 10 emailed response to Flint Beat, Ferguson said that selection committee applications would be available soon, but as of press time no further information has been provided.

Ferguson, Priestley and Flint City Councilwoman Dr. Ladel Lewis, who also helped draft the city’s ARPA allocation plan, declined to comment on the criteria the committee will use to review applications or how long the process will take before dollars start trickling down to local organizations.

At the time of the Oct. 24 City Council meeting, the city had spent $34,374,696 of the $94,726,664 it received under ARPA–just over a third of the money.

Federal guidelines stipulate that any ARPA funds that the city has not spent by Dec. 31, 2026 must be returned to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Zachary Marano is Flint Beat’s local government reporter. Zack is originally from Milford township and returns to southeast Michigan after reporting for a daily newspaper in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula....

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