Kent city leaders are forming a five-member committee for recommendations about how to spend an estimated $28.4 million in American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief funds.
The American Rescue Plan Framework Committee will include Mayor Dana Ralph, City Council members Bill Boyce and Satwinder Kaur, city Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson and city finance director Paula Painter.
“The committee will develop a high level framework to invest the funds and bring it back to the whole council,” City Council President Toni Troutner said in a March 25 email. “After that, the council can use the same committee or a different approach to make recommendations on how to use the funds consistent with the framework.”
Troutner selected Boyce and Kaur as the two council representatives.
“Councilmember Kaur brings a human services perspective and Councilmember Boyce brings a economic and community development perspective,” Troutner said. “Both council members bring a different viewpoint.”
The council agreed at its March 23 Committee of the Whole meeting to form the framework group as recommended by city staff. The council will approve the formation at its April 6 meeting. The committee will operate under the consensus model rather than actual votes.
Congress adopted and President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act in early March, which includes $65 billion in Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for local governments. Cities have until the end of 2024 to spend the funds in response to the pandemic.
Funds must be used for:
• Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
• Covering costs incurred from the public health emergency
• Replacing lost, delayed, or decreased revenues due to COVID-19
• Addressing the negative economic impacts on local businesses and nonprofits
• Making necessary investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure
Troutner said the date of the first meeting and how often the committee will met has yet to be determined. She anticipates the group will meet for about a month before issuing recommendations.
Kent received $5.8 million in federal relief last year from the CARES Act. About $2.1 million of that went to more than 300 businesses with grants of $6,500 each.
Mayor Ralph and city staff last May countered an anticipated $15.7 million revenue loss in 2020 due to COVID-19 by cutting 11 full-time employees, using $5 million of general fund reserves, reducing the capital budget transfer fund from the general fund by $3.2 million, eliminating the summer parks recreation program, and using $1 million from the city’s Health and Wellness Fund.
Because of those cutbacks and account transfers, which also anticipated revenue losses in 2021, further cuts to the 2021-2022 city budget were not necessary when the council adopted the budget late last year.