Flint, MI– The Flint City Council is hosting the first of four community meetings to discuss the American Rescue Plan Act funds Feb 7. 

In March, the city learned that it would be receiving $94.7 million dollars in COVID-19 relief as part of a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package intended to aid the country in recovering from the pandemic. 

The first of what will be four meetings to discuss how to spend the ARPA funds will be held on Monday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. at Hasselbring Senior Center located at 1002 W. Home Ave. 

The money has specific eligible uses which are outlined in a 437-page document. To avoid the risk of misspending funds and being forced to pay them back, the council approved a one-year contract with Ernst & Young, a compliance firm to help spend the funds properly.

During a council meeting on Jan. 19, Brian Jarzynski, the executive director of Ernst & Young, said the first step in deciding how to use the funds should be to determine the city’s priorities, and then evaluate the best way to fund the priorities, whether that’s through ARPA dollars or other potential sources of funding. 

“My view is that you would want to go through and put the ideas together first, and evaluate, and prioritize from there,” he said. 

According to the public notice for the first community meeting, the “money can be used to support public health expenditures, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers, and invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.” 

“Some people are going to say water bills. You know, some people may say, I lost my job, and I couldn’t get my roof repaired, so I may need some small, minor home repairs,” said Councilwoman Tonya Burns. “People are going to say, you know, public safety and police. … So I think each person’s need for what they think the community should look like is going to be different.”

The most important thing, she said, was for the community to show up and let the council know what they want. 

“This is their money. And this is to help the entire community, not a few selected people,” Burns said. The dates for the three other meetings haven’t been set yet. Residents can also give input on how the ARPA funds should be used through this online survey.

For additional information, contact the city council office at (810) 766-7418.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...