Kent city leaders propose how to spend $28.2 million in federal relief

Backfill lost city revenue; economic development investments lead list

Kent city leaders are determining how to spend $28.2 million in federal relief funds and want to hear what residents think of their plan.

The City Council approved a recommendation on June 8 from an ad-hoc committee on spending priorities to use American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 local fiscal recovery funds approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden to cities and counties across the nation.

That ad-hoc committee included Mayor Dana Ralph, Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson, Finance director Paula Painter and Councilmembers Satwinder Kaur and Bill Boyce.

“What you’ve done is really good, I think it’s going to work out well,” Councilmember Les Thomas said after seeing the recommendations at the June 8 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The ad-hoc committee broke spending into four categories:

• $10 million to backfill lost revenue and support fund balance targets

Depositing these dollars strategically into (city) funds that most need support.

• $9 million in economic development programs

Potential investments include small business loans, transit/housing, workforce development, etc.

• $4.5 million in human services and equity programs

Emphasizing investments in areas not covered by other federal programs, activating the city’s emerging Equity Strategic Plan.

• $4.5 million in infrastructure projects

Make necessary investments in traditional infrastructure projects like streets, parks, utilities and more.

The mayor and council will consider specifics about how to spend the funds during its fall budget process to adjust the 2022 budget. Residents will have a chance to give input during that process.

“It will be part of proposed budget this fall,” Matheson said to the council. “If you approve the framework, staff can put together specific uses of funds in each category and put that into the budget in fall. …We also could come back in summer about how to allocate the $10 million to different funds.”

Provide feedback

City leaders want residents to give their opinions about where to spend the funds. Residents can email comments to CityCouncil@KentWA.gov; call the city clerk at 253-856-5725 or email CityClerk@KentWA.gov to testify during the public comment period of regular council meetings, including the June 15 meeting.

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