If you’ve been up nights worried that the Greensboro City Council would not be able to spend the $54.9 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds before the December 2026 deadline, you can relax.

At the Tuesday, Jan. 3 meeting, the City Council went one step further.  The council had already allocated all $59.4 million, but it allocated the remaining $31.9 million in funds freed up by the allocation of the $59.4 million.  So the funds have not only been allocated once, but now they’ve been allocated twice.

All $54.9 million in ARP funds Greensboro received were actually allocated on Aug. 16, 2022. The city had enough expenses and losses from the COVID-19 restrictions on its books to cover the $54.9 million. By allocating the actual ARP money on Aug. 16, the city accomplished several goals.  First Greensboro no longer had to be concerned with the December 2026 deadline – a fact that some members of the City Council still haven’t figured out. And more importantly, the city no longer had to follow the restrictions and reporting requirements on the ARP funds.  The ARP money had been spent, and how the City Council spent the money in its own budget freed up by dumping $59.4 million into the city bank account should be of no concern of the federal government.

Despite the fact that the deadline for spending the ARP money had been met, the City Council has behaved as if the money was burning a hole in its pocket.

On Jan. 3, the City Council allocated the remaining $31.9 of the faux ARP money.  It took more votes than were planned, but the money has now been set aside for specific projects or awarded to nonprofit organizations.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower had asked that the $1.5 million allocation for Habitat for Humanity be removed from the resolution and voted on separately.  Hightower asked that the allocation be reduced to $1 million and the other $500,000 be set aside for “minority builders.”  Hightower came within one vote of getting her wish but the full $1.5 million for Habitat passed on a 5-4 vote split along racial lines.

Councilmember Zack Matheny asked that the $1 million for a container hub in downtown Greensboro be removed from the list so that he could be recused from voting on that item, since he is president of Downtown Greensboro Inc., which will be in charge of the container hub project.

Councilmember Hugh Holston asked that the allocation for the Greensboro Housing Coalition (GHC) be removed from the list, so that he could be recused from that vote since he is on the board of GHC.

The vote on the allocation of the $31.9 million minus the items noted passed by an 8-1 vote with Matheny voting no. The motions on the $1 million for the container hub and $500,000 for the Greensboro Housing Coalition passed unanimously with the recusals.