Flint, MI – The Flint City Council approved two resolutions at its Oct. 26, 2023 special meeting, allocating a total of $1.25 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to community programs.
The pilot program will provide Flint mothers with a $1,500 cash allowance mid-pregnancy and $500 monthly cash allowances through the first year of their child’s life.
Flint City Council Vice President Ladel Lewis and Councilmembers Quincy Murphy, Tonya Burns, Candice Mushatt and Eva Worthing voted to approve the resolution, while Councilwoman Judy Priestley voted against the measure and Councilmembers Eric Mays and Jerri Winfrey-Carter abstained.
Mays said that it was irresponsible to vote for the Rx Kids resolution without having a full budget for the city’s ARPA funds. Winfrey-Carter said she was abstaining for similar reasons.
“I want to see where all of this money is going and how many more resolutions we’re gonna have coming before us,” Winfrey-Carter said.
Priestley previously stated at a Sept. 25, 2023 meeting that she viewed the pilot program as “welfare” and thought it would discourage parents from looking for employment.
The $1 million from Flint’s ARPA funds will add to the program’s more than $40 million in support from other local and state funders, which Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha outlined to the council at the Sept. 25 meeting.
However, the program remains short of its $55 million goal. Hanna-Attisha, who is spearheading Rx Kids through Michigan State University and is continuing its fundraising efforts, said that $55 million would finance the program for roughly five years.
The second resolution council approved was for $25,000 in ARPA funds to the Latinx Technology Center for “blight removal assistance” in Wards 3, 4 and 5.
Lewis, Murphy, Priestley, Burns and Mushatt voted to approve the resolution, while Winfrey-Carter abstained. Mays and Worthing were not present for the vote.
When the resolution first appeared at a Sept. 6, 2023 finance committee meeting, the language allocated $50,000 for blight removal assistance in Ward 4. According to City Administrator Clyde Edwards, that resolution language was submitted by the mayor’s office.
However, at the Oct. 26 meeting, Priestley made a motion to change the language to what she alleged the Latinx Technology Center had asked for in its ARPA application to the city, which she said was $25,000 for blight removal in Wards 3, 4 and 5.
Flint Beat reached out to city administration for confirmation of Priestley’s claim, and why an amended funding resolution was brought forward by the mayor if her claim was true, but has not received a response as of press time.
Asa Zuccaro, the executive director of the Latinx Technology Center, said at the Sept. 6 meeting that the center currently maintains 60 lots through clearing trash and mowing.
“The conditions of the neighborhood drastically and directly impact overall quality of health and wellbeing of our residents,” he told council.
Zuccaro said that the ARPA funds would go toward new equipment to help the center’s lot maintenance efforts.
“Our equipment is aged,” he said, noting his team had been using the same “run-down lawnmower” for years.
Though many more ARPA-related resolutions were before the body for review, the above were the only two voted on by council before the special meeting ended at 10:31 p.m. due to lack of quorum.