The Greensboro City Council spent most, but not all, of the money freed up by American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds without much controversy.
All $59.4 million in ARP money received by the City of Greensboro was allocated on August 16, 2022. The city had enough losses and expenses caused by the COVID-19 restrictions on the books to cover the whole $59.4 million. By allocating the entire fund in August 2022, the City Council freed itself from federal spending and reporting restrictions on ARP money and also eliminated any concerns about spending the money before the deadline of December 2026.
Dumping $59.4 million into the city’s general fund freed up $59.4 million in general fund money that the City Council could then spend in any way it is legal for a city to spend money. The City Council could have chosen to hold on to all or a portion of that money to cover future expenses.
However, on Jan. 3, 2023, the City Council voted to allocate almost all of the remaining $31.9 million in general fund money freed up by the ARP funds.
There was a glitch in spending all that money. The motion to allocate $1.5 million to Habitat for Humanity only passed by a 5-4 margin with the council split along racial lines. All four black city councilmembers, Yvonne Johnson, Sharon Hightower, Goldie Wells and Hugh Holston, voted no. All five white members of the City Council, Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Zack Matheny, Tammi Thurm, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Hoffmann voted in favor of the allocation.
An ordinance allocating funds has to pass by a super majority or it has to be passed by the City Council twice at two different meetings by a simple majority.
So the allocation of $1.5 million for Habitat for Humanity is up for a second vote at the Tuesday, Feb. 21 meeting.
Hightower spoke against the allocation at the January meeting stating that the allocation to Habitat should be reduced to $1 million and $500,000 should be set aside for minority contractors.
If the vote for the Habitat allocation remains the same, then all $59.4 million freed up by the ARP funds will be allocated.