Fort Wayne to receive $50 million in COVID recovery funds; how will it be used?

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne City Council members voted to pass an ordinance that would allocate $50.8 million from the Coronavirus State and Local Recovery Funds to the city at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“It just puts us one step ahead of that becoming the great American city that we already are,” said City Councilwoman for Fort Wayne’s sixth district, Sharon Tucker. “So having that award, another opportunity to get that award is great for us.”

The first half of the allocation is expected to be received by the end of the week with the second half coming sometime in 2022.

“It’s like getting a big check from your grandma for Christmas,” said Jason Arp, the City Councilman for Fort Wayne’s fourth district. “It’s unexpected money, and I’m sure there’s lots of people that can think of ways to spend it.”

The purpose of Tuesday night’s meeting was simply to set up the funding account. How exactly the money will be spent is still uncertain. However, it was decided that it will be spread equally across four “buckets.”

Those four buckets are:

  • To respond to the pandemic or its negative economic impacts. This includes assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.
  • For premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work (as determined by each recipient government) during the pandemic. This would provide up to $13 per hour above regular wages.
  • For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the pandemic (relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency).
  • To make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

“Our city is in a current state of rise, sitting good so the funds that will come in will be able to help replace things that we had to subtract from the budget last year,” Tucker said. “For example, the $6 million that we had to take out of the streets and sidewalk repair. We can now put that money back and contribute a little bit more. [It will also] be able to help cover some of the things that we’ve had to limp along with in the past.”

Tucker said more advanced structures will have to be set up to put forward an exact plan and timeline for when people will receive the funds. She hopes this structure could be set up by early July.

“But it really depends on the administration. The staff that’s in the controller’s office are already consumed with many tasks that they have,” Tucker said. “So, I think the first step would be reaching out to find an individual that can help administer the funds.”

The spending deadline for these funds will be Dec. 31, 2024.

City Council will not be holding a meeting next week.

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