Walsh announces plan for American Rescue Plan funding
The City of Syracuse’s bank account has swelled substantially, after some of the federal government’s American Rescue Plan funding, and Mayor Ben Walsh wants to start spending it as soon as possible.
The feds deposited about $61 million in the city’s bank account last week. That’s about half of the $123 million that has been allocated for the city, and Walsh has a strategy for using it. Some has already been allocated to fill the hole the pandemic left in the city budget. But there’s an urgency to spend the rest.
"Our goal is to move all this along as quickly as possible. It’s a matter of prioritizing and making sure all the appropriate pieces are in place,” Walsh said.
One of the immediate priorities, according to Walsh, is allocating over $1 million for summer employment and jobs skills program for youth.
“Schools are letting out in a couple of weeks and we need to make sure that young people have those opportunities waiting for them,” he said.
Walsh also wants to quickly get funding into the hands of property owners so they can make improvements to their properties, as well as the arts, an area hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
“We are going to be making some strategic investments in arts and culture, including a ticket matching program for our arts venues. So people can go to our venues and buy a ticket and get a ticket free with it,” Walsh said.
Overall, spending is split into four areas: families and neighborhoods, infrastructure, economic development and government. Much of the funding is earmarked for programs or spending that’s already been discussed, such as plans for new housing, and the extension of the city’s water intake pipe in Skaneateles Lake.
“What this investment opportunity has given us is the ability to build the capacity and accelerate these initiatives to address the very challenges that we continue to face,” he said.
All the spending needs to be approved by the city’s Common Council.