The city of Kent will receive an estimated $28.4 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding from the American Rescue Plan.
Under the legislation’s state and local funding provisions alone, Washington state will receive an estimated $4.25 billion, cities and counties are estimated to receive a total of $2.66 billion, and $189 million will be allocated toward critical infrastructure projects in the state.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the estimated relief funding for localities in Washington state through the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed last week by President Joe Biden.
“The city of Kent is grateful to receive direct funding from the federal government as part of the latest COVID-19 federal relief package,” said Bailey Stober, city communications manager, in a March 12 email. “We want to thank our federal delegation including Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell as well as Reps. Kim Schrier and Adam Smith for their advocacy.”
Stober said it’s undetermined how the city will spend the money.
“We don’t have specifics at this time as to how the money will be allocated and which programs or services will directly benefit since the package was signed by the president just days ago,” Stober said. “Mayor (Dana) Ralph will work with the City Council and the city’s Executive Leadership Team to create a process and plan to allocate Kent’s $28.41 million in one-time funds.
“It is the city’s goal to ensure as much of this money as possible gets into the hands of those who need it the most and have been hardest hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19.”
State and local fiscal relief funds can be used for local economic recovery purposes, including assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, assistance to hard-hit industries like tourism, travel and hospitality and infrastructure investment, according to a news release from Murray’s office.
City leaders 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, 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.
Kent received $5.8 million in federal relief last year from the CARES Act, according to Derek Matheson, city chief administrative officer.
The city spent $2.3 million on payroll safety expenses (much of it went to public safety; $545,000 to ShoWare Center reopening supplies); $2.1 million on small business grants to about 300 businesses; $756,322 on laptops and other computers so employees could work remotely; $271,534 on medical and protective supplies (PPE); $174,583 on signage, communication, social distancing supplies; $92,290 on job safety retraining and wage reimbursement for aerospace industry; and the remainder on several other items less than $21,000 each.
Overall, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan provides $360 billion to states, territories, Tribes and local governments to be used for responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, to offset revenue losses, to bolster economic recovery and to provide premium pay for essential workers, according to Murray’s news release.
States, counties and cities with higher unemployment rates will receive more funds as part of the federal formula.
“Beating this virus means making sure our states, counties, cities, towns and Tribes have the resources to continue an effective and strong response — and with the signing of the American Rescue Plan, help is finally on the way,” Murray said. “Washington state families are relying on the people our state and local governments employ — whether it’s our health care workers, our teachers, EMS, transportation workers — to keep our families safe and healthy and our communities running as the work continues to end this pandemic.”
Nationwide, state and local governments have had to eliminate 1.4 million jobs since the pandemic began, and job losses increased by 50,000 in December, according to the Murray news release. The need is particularly pronounced at the local level: a National League of Cities survey showed a 21% revenue decline on average among cities with losses and the National Association of Counties projected a 20% revenue decline. These figures may grow worse over time as property tax revenue decreases have lagged recessions by two years or more.
COVID-19 relief funds
(in millions of dollars)
King County: $436
Des Moines: $7.0
Federal Way: $18.3
Maple Valley: $5.9
Note: List is example of cities