COVID-19 has presented some unique problems.

The Greensboro City Council spent over an hour at the Thursday, Aug. 12 work session discussion on how it could spend the $59.4 million it will receive in American Rescue Plan funding.

The city’s actual loss of revenue and additional expenses due to the COVID-19 restrictions have largely been covered by other funds, so the $59.4 million is federal money the city has to decide how to use and then spend by Dec. 31, 2026.

Having nearly $60 million in largely unrestricted federal funds is a unique problem for the Greensboro City Council.

However, it is not a unique problem for local governments.  Assistant City Manager Larry Davis said he participated in a weekly Zoom meeting with representatives from peer cities to discuss how ARP money could be spent and the various processes being used.

Davis said that according to the formula provided by the US Treasury Department, Greensboro suffered a loss of $30 million due to COVID restrictions.  According to the report, AFP recipients have a “broad latitude to use these funds to provide government services.  So a little more than half the $59.4 million can be spent on most services that the city provides.

The other $29 million has to be spent on “Specific Eligible Uses.”

Those uses are listed as “Public Health, Economic Impacts, Premium Pay” and “Infrastructure.”

The administrative cost of spending the money is also an eligible expense.

Davis said that the city could spend money in “qualified Census tracts,” which in Greensboro is what Davis referred to as “the fire crescent.”  The area is also called the “crime crescent” or the “poverty crescent.”  It stretches from the northeast through east Greensboro to the southwest.

Davis said that funds spent in this area were “eligible on their face.”

Funding for food, rent mortgage, utility assistance, job training and direct cash payments are all eligible expenses in this area.

Funds can also be used for equity investments in disadvantaged communities and to address community infrastructure disparities.

ARP funds can also be used for loans or grants to small businesses and nonprofits.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I’d like to see us put this up on our website and get some input from the public.”

Vaughan added, “Its lot of money and I want to make sure that a lot of voices are heard.”