Kenosha County municipalities are on tap to receive a combined $67.6 million in funds as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the COVID relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said he is pleased the funds provide broad assistance.
“We’re very pleased with what the federal government has done, because this is the first time in a very long time that they really have sent money directly back to the communities and not had extremely strict uses attached,” Antaramian said. “It is much more far-reaching. I can use it for infrastructure. I can use it for other types of economic development. Those types of things are being allowed under this package. So, from the city’s perspective, it is very helpful in allowing the city to move forward.”
But U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, who represents the county in Congress, says it significantly shortchanges cities like Kenosha.
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“The numbers are in and show exactly what we have been warning about,” Steil said. “The spending bill bails out reckless spending cities like Chicago and shortchanges hardworking hometowns like Kenosha.”
Kenosha to see $278 per person
The City of Kenosha is slated to receive roughly $27.8 million in federal funding. On a per capita basis, that is $278 per person.
In total, Milwaukee is projected to receive approximately $405 million, or $687.47 per person. The City of Chicago is projected to receive more than $1.9 billion, or $735.66 per person.
Kenosha County allocations
Following are the estimates each Kenosha County government will be receiving in relief via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021:
Kenosha County: $32.89 million
City of Kenosha: $27.80 million
Pleasant Prairie: $2.08 million
Salem Lakes: $1.47 million
Village of Somers: $830,000
Twin Lakes: $610,000
Paddock Lake: $310,000
Town of Somers: $110,000
In general, the federal funds can be used to combat negative economic impacts caused by COVID, help workers performing essential work during COVID, help with reduction of revenue, and to make investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
City, county on assistance
Antaramian said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a particular big impact on small businesses and families.
“I think the biggest impact, from my perspective, is the one dealing with mental health,” Antaramian said. “That is a very important issue that needs to be addressed.”
He said he is hopeful funds can be used to aid the work of those in health and human services.
Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said he is dedicated to ensuring the relief funds will be put to good use.
“We are pleased and appreciative that county governments will receive economic relief in the American Rescue Plan Relief funds,” Kreuser said.
Kreuser said he appreciates the “broad” approach that was taken with regard to the funding, adding it will take time to explore how best to use the assistance.
“We know there are broad spending categories, like lost revenue, economic recovery and infrastructure, but how those will work in practical terms needs to be fleshed out with the details,” Kreuser said. “I know that Kenosha County will look to develop a plan in the best interest of our residents.”
Towns, villages exploring uses
Kenosha County town and village administrators said they will work to determine eligible projects the funds can be used for.
“The village is learning about how these funds will be allocated and for what purposes they can used for as we go,” Somers Administrator Jason Peters said. “The village and town (will) most likely address how to use these funds during our next budget cycle.”
There is plenty of time as the funds do not need to be used until 2024. But, Peters said the funds will have a tangible impact.
“The Village of Paddock Lake is excited and appreciative to our federal government for providing the grant funds to our community,” said Tim Popanda, village administrator. “With the program being new, we are actively researching the program’s eligibility requirements and searching internally for the best use of the funds.”
Popanda said a few initial thoughts for use of the funds include: Security improvements for public utilities, such as sewer and water; development of a village-based and administered disaster recovery plan; and infrastructure improvements within village-managed utility districts.
Popanda said he will also research if the fund can be used for reimbursement of lost revenue during the pandemic, as well as assisting local businesses and residents.
Twin Lakes Village Administrator Laura Roesslein anticipates there will be much interest across village departments in how this money could help fill budget gaps.
“My initial reaction is that all departments within the village will have requests for this funding,” Roesslein said. “My plan will be to create a village-wide list and then present to the Village Board for their final approval on what projects will be chosen.”