(SACRAMENTO) CBS13 - It's a $150 million question: how and where will federal money given to Sacramento county from the American Rescue Plan be prioritized?
"We want to do things differently this time. We want to hear from the public, we want to hear what their priorities are for spending," said Kim Nava, Sacramento County Communications Director.
The new funding allows for the county to have more leeway in how and where they spending the money, as opposed to previous waves of federal relief funding distributed through the Coronavirus Relief Fund in 2020.
"We want to hear from people who have been affected. It's really important to do it right rather than doing it turnkey and getting the funds out tomorrow," Nava explained.
The county launched a questionnaire Tuesday asking the community to answer where they want to see the money spent. The options include the below eight different categories.
- Broadband: Invest in access to and expansion of broadband for unserved and underserved households and businesses.
- Infrastructure: Improve access to clean drinking water, wastewater, and storm water infrastructure systems while considering resilience to climate change.
- Health: Provide resources to meet health needs, care for those impacted by the virus, and/or services that address disparities in public health exacerbated by the pandemic.
- Education: Provide educational services to address students' academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as disparities exacerbated by the public health emergency.
- Economic Response: Help to address the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, especially to those disproportionately impacted.
- Homelessness: Offer services to address homelessness, such as supportive housing and improved access to affordable, stable housing.
- Housing: Provide assistance and support to families, households, and communities facing housing insecurity and housing disparities exacerbated by the crisis.
- Essential Workers: Provide additional support to those who bear the greatest health risks because of service in critical infrastructure sectors, e.g. premium pay for lower-income workers.
The $150 million is the first installment of more than $300 million the county is receiving in federal funds. The county Board of Supervisors will make the final decision on how the money will be distributed.
"There are hundreds of small businesses that have closed their doors at this point," said Amanda Blackwood, President and CEO of Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Blackwood wants to see those dollars go towards struggling small businesses to help with technical assistance and funding needs.
"That need for cash is still very real. We have rent deferrals and utility referrals and these things that are starting to come up that these small businesses really are going to need straight-up cash support to keep payrolls paid and rent paid," she explained.
Patrick Mulvaney, the owner of Mulvaney's B&L in Midtown, hopes the funding can also help extend the Great Plates program he runs through his restaurant. The program that is set to expire in a month, has helped feed hundreds of thousands of seniors during the pandemic.
"The money that has come in has gone directly back out and helped changed the problems, the hunger," he explained
Mulvaney believes ultimately funding helps the entire community if given to restaurants like his.
"We are keeping people employed at the restaurant, we are keeping people employed as delivery drivers, we are keeping people employed as farmers," he said.
Residents have until June 30 to submit their opinion on how the money should be spent. The county hopes to have a spending plan ready by the Fall to distribute the money.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT
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