By Kevin Struck, UW-Madison Extension
On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan. The package includes $350 billion in aid for state and local governments. This is the same package that recently sent $1,400 direct stimulus payments to millions of Americans.
Based roughly on population, the Village is slated to receive an estimated $203,533. All towns, villages, and cities will receive allocations. The City of Sheboygan Falls, for example, will receive approximately $783,000. Sheboygan County Government will receive about $22 million. For comparison within Wisconsin, Florence County at the low end will receive $833,000 and Milwaukee County at the high end will receive $183 million.
Allocations will be distributed by state governments and will come in two separate outlays, the first within the next two months and the second in 2022.
This is the first time all 19,000 municipal governments in the U.S. will receive this level of funding by formula, rather than a competitive process. The CARES Act of 2020 went only to cities with a population of greater than 500,000 and the rental assistance program passed in December, 2020 went only to cities with 200,000 or more people.
Allowable uses for the funds include:
- Responding to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
- Responding to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers of the metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county that are performing such essential work, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work;
- Providing government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue of such metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year of the metropolitan city, nonentitlement unit of local government, or county prior to the emergency;
- Making necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. This investment does not need to be tied to the pandemic.
Communities must provide periodic reports to the U.S Treasury that include a detailed accounting of the uses of the funds they receive under this Act.
Besides the aid to communities described above, the American Rescue Plan also includes additional funding for other areas like education, rental assistance, and transit.