Spokane Evaluates How To Use $ 84 Million In COVID-19 Stimulus Money



Spokane city officials are considering how to spend $ 84 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds and, so far, have narrowed the strategy down to 4Rs.

Replenish, reach out, resilience and relief.

The four-pronged framework, set out in a motion for a city council resolution, is expected to guide the city’s decision-making process as it decides how to spend its two allocations of more than $ 40 million from the US bailout.

City council discussed the resolution in a study session Thursday.

“This resolution is a first attempt to try to find a process to organize all the things people think it would be great to do,” said Council President Breean Beggs.

The resolution does not set aside funds for specific purposes.

Instead, it focuses on the four themes.

The city will aim to “replenish” its own coffers, especially to deal with revenues that have been hit by COVID-19.

An example would be Spokane Parks and Recreation, whose programming was disrupted by the pandemic last year.

Rather than just handing ministries a check, Beggs said the focus will be on developing “responsive” projects. In the case of the parks department, that means funding the aquatic program which was canceled entirely in 2020.

When schools closed during the pandemic, the city lost income normally captured by its cameras that force motorists through school zones at full speed. Scheduled for $ 2.6 million in fine revenue last year, the program had brought in just $ 1.2 million until November 2020.

The proceeds from these tickets go to projects to make roads safer. The concept within the framework of the resolution of the American rescue plan would not only be to replenish the lost revenue from traffic calming, but to support specific traffic calming projects.

“Reach out” refers to funding from community organizations that the city already funds, like Spokane COPS and Spokane Arts, which provide “near-urban services,” Beggs said.

By providing “relief,” Beggs said the city will seek to help businesses and residents in a way that alternative pandemic relief programs have not.

“Resilience,” according to the draft resolution, calls for “significant investments in forward-thinking initiatives that will create long-term sustainable growth and stability for the town of Spokane and all members of its community”.

To that end, Councilor Candace Mumm suggested piloting a two- or three-year pre-kindergarten program, funded by a combination of US bailout funds and other federal and state funds.

“There is data to support this; it has a huge economic and social impact on the road, ”Mumm said.

The board is expected to vote on the resolution on June 7.


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