By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
The city of St. Joseph has been allocated $39.7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act that was approved by Congress earlier this year.
The city council is now deciding how to best allocate this funding to those who need it most.
The council met with city manager Bryan Carter as well as Planning and Community Development Director Clint Thompson in a work session at City Hall Thursday to review the amount and how it will be allocated.
The city will receive this funding in two increments. The first $19.5 million payment will come within days, while the next $19.5 million will come in a year.
Any business, entity or household that has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for this funding. St. Joseph mayor Bill McMurray hopes that low-income families and individuals can benefit from this relief funding especially.
"If there's any way we can help some of the poorer families in our community who have been knocked in the head," McMurray said. "First, it was the flood, then it was COVID. If we can help them build a good case in their application with the supporting documentation, I really want to do that."
The city has received funding applications from 18 different entities and businesses from around town. These 18 applicants have requested a combined $13 million. Meanwhile, various departments within the city's government has requested $20 million.
McMurray also pointed out that this money can also be put toward water, sewer and broadband infrastructure within the city.
But, the mayor urges any individual who believes they are eligible for relief funds to get an application in as soon as they can.
"We have a one-page application," he said. "Clint Thompson and our Planning and Community Development Department can get that to somebody if they feel their organization or they individually or a small business needs it. We have some opportunities. It has to be the harmful affect of COVID is where this comes from."
Thompson noted that the city has until the end of 2024 to allocate this $39.7 million amount. The council discussed the idea of forming a five-member citizen's committee comprised of either small business owners and/or people who work for organizations like CAP St. Joe that serve low-income individuals.
This committee will likely be discussed in greater detail at the next council meeting on May 17 and would be put on the agenda as a resolution.
The initial deadline to apply for this American Rescue Plan Funding was April 30. But with half of the $39.7 million coming to the city next year, McMurray urges anyone in need to apply for this money - whether their application is granted this year or next.
"If somebody feels like they would like to apply, get an application from our Planning Community and Development department," McMurray noted. "Get the supporting documentation and get it in there so we can crunch the numbers."
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