How to spend $35.9MM?

COVINGTON, Ky. – The City of Covington has created a survey to pick the public’s brain on how to spend $35.9 million over the next 3 to 5 years.

The money can’t be spent on just anything.

Rather, it must be allocated within broad categories related to recovering from the economic and public health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Oct. 31, the City must send the federal Treasury Department an outline of how it intends to spend the money, which was issued under the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion stimulus package introduced by Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Biden earlier this year.

Covington leaders say they want to maximize the impact of the funds by investing in infrastructure, services, and programs that not only help residents, businesses, and organizations survive the pandemic but also strengthen the community at its core and improve the quality of life within it.

“The size of the program creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Joy Pierson, Covington’s assistant city manager. “We want to make decisions that create positive impact not only in the short term but also for the long haul, impact that can be felt for many generations.”

The City’s online survey can be accessed HERE.

Covington’s total award of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds is $35,914,130. It received half that amount in June and will receive the other half in June 2022. The funds must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.

A separate allocation of $2,044,421 was sent to the Northern Kentucky HOME Consortium, for which Covington is the lead agency. The organization – which also includes the Cities of Ludlow, Bellevue, Dayton, and Newport – focuses on improving the availability of affordable housing for low- and very low-income families. HOME funds must be spent on affordable housing, homelessness prevention, rental assistance, and/or related services.

Final “rules” or guidance from the federal government is expected for both pots of money later this fall.

General guidelines mandate the $39.5 million in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds be spent:

  • To support urgent response efforts aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and bringing the pandemic under control.
  • To replace “lost” local government revenue used for vital public services and to retain jobs.
  • To support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses.
  • To address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the inequal impact of the pandemic.

 The final plan for spending will go before the Covington Board of Commissioners for approval in October. Even after being presented to the federal government, however, the plan can be amended.

“This process will be the start and not the end of deciding how these funds will be used,” Pierson said. “The ideas and suggestions that come from this public survey will help the City Commission decide where to focus these resources, and we encourage both residents and leaders of organizations to fill it out.”

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