Cincinnati City Council vote on spending American Rescue Plan funds on hold

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 6:28 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee was supposed to start the process of approving $35 million in federal funds, but that is now on hold.

It now appears City Council is not exactly sure yet what it can spend the American Rescue Plan money on.

“At the very end [of Tuesday’s meeting] we heard from the administration, their take on the final guidance from the Treasury Department on what we can spend this money on, and it really did cause us to pause and have a bit of a reality check,” Interim Council Member Steve Goodin said.

With tens of millions of dollars on the table, City Council has been hearing from groups that would like some of that federal funding.

The Port wants $2.5 million for its Affordable Housing Trust Fund, including the construction of 50 homes in South Cumminsville.

“We will wherever possible look to decrease the square footage of the houses, so we can get the prices between $120,000 and $150,000,” The Port CEO Laura Brunner stated.

Council Member Chris Seelbach expressed concerns that would not meet the needs of people.

“So, I think we - this is good, but it doesn’t address, I think what people are crying out for, what people want us to address,” Seelbach said.

There is money for the Arts, and Artworks would like to have $50,000.

“This is really a chance to put dollars back into the pocket of those who need it while teaching them skills in which they’ll make an impact on our communities and their families for generations to come,” said Artworks’ board chairman Joe Muraca.

The Group 4C for Children is asking for $5.5 in child care funding to help offset some of the debt families incurred during the pandemic.

“It’s an employment for that typically African-American woman. That is who leads 90% and owns our family child care, but also, it’s a business,” said Vanessa Freytag with 4C for Children.

A new headquarters for police officers in District 5 has Goodin’s support, but that might not be able to happen now.

As for the $250,000 to repaint the Black Lives Matter mural on Plum Street is concerned, Goodin says it remains to be seen if that can be funded with this money.

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