CHICAGO (CBS) -- A coalition of aldermen and community groups is slamming Mayor Lori Lightfoot, accusing her administration of misspending discretionary funds from the federal COVID-19 relief bill.
The city received approximately $470 million in federal funding from the CARES Act in 2020 to help cover costs related to the pandemic.
The Chicago Tribune reported the Lightfoot administration spent more than $280 million of those funds on Chicago Police Department costs last year, angering some aldermen.
The group criticized the mayor for spending hundreds of millions on police payroll costs, while ignoring programs to help people struggling during the pandemic.
"One pot of money that we had that was flexible funding; the one pot of money that could have been used for small business support, for housing relief for our neighbors, to help prevent violence in our communities, that's what we're talking about. And of that $470 million, $284 million of it went directly to the Chicago Police Department," said Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st).
The city's Office of Budget and Management posted a thread on Twitter responding to criticisms of the city's CARES Act spending.
"This pandemic has been a crisis like none we've ever experienced. Throughout it, the Budget Office has worked with all City departments to ensure they have the necessary resources to meet the needs of our communities," officials wrote.
City officials claimed "there's been a lot of misinformation circulating" regarding the city's CARES Act spending.
According to the city's budget office, Chicago received a total of $1.2 billion in federal funding, including $300 million specifically for the Chicago Department of Public Health's response.
"More than $230M in additional federal funds are coming their way," officials said.
The budget office also said the city appropriated more than $94 million for homeless and housing assistance efforts, $80 million for rental assistance programs, and more than $100 million for assistance for small businesses.
City officials said the $470 million pot La Spata referred to was money to be used for personnel costs related to the pandemic, including for public health and public safety agencies.
"Had the City not used this reimbursement, we would have been forced to pass the burden onto our taxpayers," officials wrote. "Throughout this pandemic our first responders, including our police, firefighters, and EMTs stepped up and kept our communities safe—from performing wellness checks to securing testing sites and quarantine facilities."
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