The Greensboro City Council held a work session to discuss spending the $31.8 million remaining from the $59.4 million in American Rescue Plan funds that the city received.
The council ended up spending a lot of the two-hour work session discussing a proposed ARP allocation of $300,000 to replace the carpet in the Central Library.
The City Council allocated the entire $59.4 million in ARP money to the general fund in August, so what the City Council is actually doing is allocating general fund money that was freed up by placing an additional $59.4 million in the $372 million general fund. By allocating the ARP funds to the general fund to pay for ARP eligible expenses, the city and the nonprofit organizations that receive funding no longer have to follow the restrictions on spending ARP funds or adhere to the federal reporting requirements.
City Councilmember Zack Matheny, who described the entire ARP presentation as “pretty awful,” repeatedly used the example of spending ARP money for replacing the carpet in the Central Library as exactly how the ARP money should not be used.
Matheny noted that the plan presented by city staff called for $18 million to be used for maintenance of city buildings, and many of those requests were not included in the ARP funding requests from the city but were added far past the deadline set for ARP funding requests.
Matheny said, “The intent of these funds was to invest and invest in the community, not replace carpet.”
City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba said that the community used the library.
Matheny said to Jaiyeoba, “You’ve got a $630 million budget. I think you can find the money to replace the carpet.”
The city 2022-2023 budget is $688 million.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan in speaking about the $18 million for deferred maintenance said, “It’s hard for me to believe that there are not funds available in the budget.”
She said that the tax increase added $43 million to the budget, but she didn’t see where that additional $43 million was being spent.
Both Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter and Tammi Thurm noted that the midyear budget report almost always showed more property tax and sales tax revenue than estimated in the budget. Thurm added that the City Council could wait until January to see those revenue numbers and possibly use some of that money for new carpet for the library.
Matheny said, “Do we really need to vote on a carpet change. I want us to be more strategic.”