Where is American Rescue Plan money going locally?
(ABC 6 News) – The federal government passed billions in relief for local cities and townships across the country.
Minnesota received about $377 million to designate to small cities and townships.
The city of Kasson is just one of many cities in southeast Minnesota claiming its money. Kasson is expecting to get about $750,000 between this year and next.
It’s just a matter of do we have a purpose for it?" Timothy Ibisch, the City Administrator of Kasson, said.
And the city does.
"The northeast Kasson water tower we’re looking at replacing that in 2022 and it’s going to be a huge upsize because it’s going to go from 125,000 gallons to 400,000 gallons so it’s actually almost going to quadruple and, of course, there’s a substantial cost related to that too," Ibisch said.
But that cost will not burden taxpayers because of this federal pandemic aid.
"We’re anticipating that it will help knock down the water rates by about one percent in the next year," Ibisch said.
For cities receiving this federal money, the total amount of money they are getting isn’t determined until all of the cities and townships either opt-in or opt-out.
"Right now, for example, in the state of Minnesota, about 60 percent of the townships haven’t signed up. So if they don’t sign up, then that money will be returned kind of to the pool and it will be reallocated," Ibisch said.
The city of Austin has received over $1 million, which is the biggest chunk of money in southeast Minnesota.
Albert Lea has received over $900,000 and the city plans to spend it on housing rehab in the community.
"It is a big deal for us because obviously, as you know, this is money that we would not have otherwise had and it gives us the opportunity to really reach into areas that we probably really want to do but really haven’t had the funds to take care of and there’s definitely a need. Housing is a need for all these rural communities," Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Jr. of Albert Lea said.
But more than one hundred cities and 500 townships throughout the state have not requested this money, leaving more than $18 million unclaimed.
But some cities or townships, especially the smaller ones, might not even need the money.
"For example, if you’re a smaller community and you don’t have any water or sewer projects upcoming or you don’t have expenditures from the previous year to spend on, then there may not be as many reasons to get that money," Ibisch said.
Lanesboro also applied for the funds and the council is having a special workshop next week to consider ways in which these funds will best benefit the community.
Next door in Preston, the city says it has applied and will definitely be using the funds, whether it be infrastructure or for other needs.
The State Department of Management and Budget has extended the deadline until Monday, October 11. This will give those small cities and townships more time to apply for millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief.
Here is a look at those specific numbers:
– Austin $1,335,040
– Albert Lea $934,153
– Spring Valley $ 127, 510
– Byron $298,351
– Kasson $343,535
– Dover $40,740
– Dodge Center $146,451
– Hayfield $70,739
– Rochester Township $100, 685