The Greensboro City Council is holding a work session reportedly on how to spend the remaining American Rescue Plan money on Thursday, Nov. 3, but that money has already been spent.
According to the agenda, the City Council has $31.8 million of the $59.4 the city received in ARP funds left to spend.
The $31.8 million, which is listed in the “American Rescue Plan Update 11/3/2022” as the “Total Remaining” is incorrect, because the City Council on August 16 voted 9-0 to allocate all $59.4 million in ARP funds to the general fund. The general fund is the portion of the city budget where property tax, sales tax and much of the revenue the city spends goes. The general fund, before the $59.4 million was added, was about $372 million of the $688 million 2022-2023 budget.
ARP funds have to be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024 and spent by Dec. 31, 2026, or returned to the federal government. The City Council voted to allocate all of the ARP funds to the general fund. In other words, the ARP funds have been spent, so the City Council no longer has to be concerned about spending all of the $59.4 million by the federal deadlines or for the purposes stated in the American Rescue Plan Act.
One of the reasons given for allocating the entire amount to the general fund was to avoid the reporting requirements and the restrictions on how ARP funds could be spent. By allocating the $59.4 million to the general fund, the federal restrictions and reporting requirements no longer exist.
The City Council is able to use the extra money now in the city budget for any expense that it is legal for a city to pay, whether or not it is an approved ARP expense.
Also, if the City Council allocates more money to nonprofit organizations, those organizations do not have to meet the ARP reporting requirements because they are not receiving ARP funds but are receiving money from the City of Greensboro, which has markedly fewer reporting requirements than the federal government.